This morning I got out and had the first European coffee in a while and it was mighty tasty. Maybe it’s because I started to develop my taste for coffe in Europe that I like it so much more than in the US, or maybe it’s flat-out better. It’s different in the way that chili can be different in one state or another: whether or not it’s served with pasta, for example.
My flight into Dublin arrived yesterday a week ago just before 3:00pm local time. It was a particularly long day of travel because three flights were involved and I had started my journey in Tucson at 11:00am local time. That’s a total of twenty hours if I do the math correctly. There was no power or internet access on board the transatlantic flight and a small selection of movies, which made it rough for me since I couldn’t sleep and since my laptop didn’t have enough charge left to make it very far. Thankfully, despite being in the middle of the middle of the middle of the aircraft (the 777-200 had a 3-5-3 arrangement of seats in the economy sections), I was surrounded by a couple of polite women and we all had sufficient room.
Of course, I came to Dublin to work. It had been over a year since my team at Automattic came together in person (excluding our all-company meetup) and we were due for it. Since our team’s focus was recently changed and since we will be working hand-in-hand with another team, it was a joint meetup. The first part of the week was fairly exhausting as we brainstormed and planned for our next year’s worth of work, but as we actually started the work it became a bit more pleasant.
Yesterday we took a tour into the mountains south of Dublin. Ireland is a very beautiful and calm country. There are mountains (literally) of peat and turf that used to be harvested to burn for heating. These hills are bogs-on-mountains and are not only protected now, but some of the most efficient and effective carbon sinks in the world. From nothing more than the carbon-dioxide that the grasses and shrubs suck in, they supposedly accumulate peat at a rate of approximately an inch every thirty years. That figure is really quite incredible.
Back in Europe means back to cheap travel. My friend Donncha is flying to London (from Cork, Ireland) today to walk around the city and take pictures. He told me that his flight cost about 35€, or about $40.
I’ll be nomadding over the next month. Instead of flying home and then flying right back, I’m staying over here while Mandi finishes her semester. She’ll be joining me in May and until then I plan on doing some solo adventuring – hopefully to provide some interesting stories here.
Stragely, though I’m “more settled” in Tucson, I seem to have more time when travelling to do things like write on this blog. Right now it’s my short flight which gives me this opportunity; the first of many.
Next to my AeroPress, my Hario grinder has been the most significant contribution to my coffee repertoire. It’s a hand-cranked burr-grinder and it does a mighty-fine job, letting me make extra fresh coffee one cup at a time.
Before my last round of trips, the washer mysteriously disappeared. It’s literally the smallest piece of the assembly – a small translucent annulus that reduces friction between the rotating burr assembly and the stationary bearing. Technically I could still use my grinder without the washer, afterall, it’s just plastic and metal and hand-crank speeds, but the engineer in me couldn’t pull the handle.
Hario’s a big company and I didn’t have high expectations of reaching anyone who could help me. I thought about just picking something up at Ace Hardware, but the employee at the local Ace had been pretty rude to me a couple times and so I decided plan A would be better – call Hario and see if they could ship me a replacement.
In fact, after leaving an email explaining my sadness for losing my fresh grinds each morning, I received a quick response from someone who wanted to help. I ended up corresponding with two different people and both went out of their way to make sure I could crush once again. If you know how I usually handle these kinds of logistical things, you can imagine the obstacles they faced. Luckily Eileen was persistent with my sloth-like responses over the holidays and got what she needed – $1 for the washer, $1 to ship it, and an address to ship it to.
My washer just arrived in the mail and I can’t wait to pull out the AeroPress and see if my old bag of beans has any of its berry vigor left after sitting alone in the drawer these past couple of months. I was surprised and impressed when it came in a hand-addressed envelope with a personal message warning me about the dangers of opening a folded post-it containing washers. In fact, if it weren’t for M.L, God bless his or her soul, I might have lost the replacement and sighed anguish instead of relief over the empty mug in my hands.
One of “Germany’s Starbucks” is a coffee chain called, Balzac Coffee. It always struck me when I found out that people didn’t know Balzac was a famous author, but I had no better clue as to why someone honored him with in the name of their café. Today I stumbled upon the New Yorker’s daily shout to Balzac and now it all makes sense: Balzac was legendary in his coffee drinking habits, supposedly drinking up to fifty cups per day.