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Archive for July, 2009

This whole world of espresso is much more complicated than I thought it could be.  I almost wish I was still naïve and using my crappy $30 Mr. Coffee steam “espresso” maker, but I can’t go back in time and make the frother not break so here I am.

When my frother on my 3 year old Mr. Coffee finally crapped out I went straight to Craigslist.  I found a Krups Gusto espresso machine, paid $25, went home with a smile on my face.  My smile quickly faded into a pissed off frown when I realized the guy only gave me the filter for a single shot of espresso (I’m used to having 4 every morning).  Mr. Craigslist seller never bothered to search his kitchen drawers for me either so I never got relief from a 2 shot filter.

To make it worse the machine was crap.  Within about 10 seconds the espresso started coming out clear.  Where’s the crema I ask?  Hell, what is crema?  I didn’t even know there was such a thing, or rather that it was called “crema.”  Crema is the foaming, frothy stuff that’s supposed to be on the top of your shot of espresso if it is brewed correctly; I obviously never received this from Mr. Coffee (or Signor Gusto).

So, after weeks of meticulously searching Craigslist, Overstock.com, every store on the planet that sells espresso machines, and Ebay I finally ordered an espresso machine.  I wanted a better one than the simple lil’ steamer I had for so long but being an unemployed college student at the moment kinda puts a damper on the ole checkbook.  I now own a Breville Café Roma espresso machine, which I procured for about $50 plus shipping from Ebay.  The machine originally retailed for over $200 so I’m ok with how much I paid for it.  What I’m not ok with is the annoying thumping sound the pump makes when you turn the frother on, but the internet tells me (and it has to be true as the internet never lies) that the thumping sound is normal… oh well.

What sucks now is that I realized I’m not using the right grind of coffee to make espresso with, which has a dire impact on the quality of espresso that is produced.  Burr coffee grinders, I am told (again from the internet), are the way to go (not blade ones).  Burr coffee grinders are evidently in high demand as they are priced higher than most low – medium end espresso machines.  **sigh**

Maybe at the end of my coffee rainbow I’ll be able to get a job as a barista somewhere as I’ll actually have “experience” other than being a logistics director and post payment auditor (which I would assume means absolutely squat to the folks at Starbucks).  I know, I’m bassackwards.  Who says to themselves, “I want to quit my fluffy salaried job to make coffee, and get paid beans (ha) to do so.”

10/14/09 Update: My advice to those of you in the espresso machine market, do NOT buy one of these suckers unless you have endless amounts of patience.  Espresso ground coffee, yeah it won’t go through the portafilter on this.  In fact, I typically have to mix different grinds of coffee to get anything out of it at all.  And today I just spent over half an hour fighting with the little buggard because my filter is clogged.  Nothing will come out of it.  Nothing.  Not even water by its lonesome.  I’ve read similar stories for the higher end Breville as well.  Pain in the ass!

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Ok, it needs to cool off.  I had to go to a bar to do my homework.  You laugh.  I am serious.  When your apartment is nearing 100 degrees and Yoda isn’t around to cool it off for you it’s impossible to concentrate on anything, and likely that you may get heat stroke.  So, the closest place to mia casa that had air conditioning was a Scottish pub, and I like all things Scottish. =)  Or Irish.  Whatever.

It hasn’t rained in at least two weeks, at least I can’t remember the last time sweet droplets of water fell from the sky.  It ticks you off in January when you’ve seen the rain for the last 3 months but when it’s late July and 85 degrees at 10 am and you don’t have AC you really start missing the rainy season.  I’ve walked into spider webs for the past two weeks every day on my way to the bus stop.

So it’s almost 8pm.  My doors and windows are all open.  I think it’s a brisk 99 degrees in here.  I’m super excited about that.

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Be nice to us peds (and cyclists).  I know we’re irritating because we walk so slowly across the crosswalks, and those five seconds you have to wait before turning really wreck your entire day; but it’s because of us irritatingly slow walkers that the gas you put into your $30,000 Acura is as cheap as it is.  And it’s too because of us that your children have a smidgen up hope for a green planet when they reach adulthood.

So, while you’re in a hurry to get your nails done or dry cleaning picked up, remember it takes us environmentally concerned folk a hell of a lot longer to get somewhere and you should be gracious and let us cross the street before you vroom your engine up and turn the corner before we can put two feet down on the pavement, especially in light of a minor detail called “right of way.”  I’d rather you not run over me, as I’m sure you’d rather not dent your shiny car with my body.

Sincerely,

a person who Goes by Foot

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Does anyone else think it’s super creepy how the internet stalks you these days?  I go to a website in search of a kitchen cart.  Next thing I know half the ads I see everywhere are for that store.  I was recently looking for a new phone from Verizon – I’ve been seeing Verizon ads for a solid month now.  I looked (just once several weeks ago) at Godiva’s website trying to find nutrition information and I am STILL getting Godiva ads.  I perused the P90X website and now I get a plethora of “tricks to shrink belly fat,” “one rule to a flat stomach,” and more ads of the like, constantly.

Not only is it super flippin irritating seeing the same flippin ads every single day, but what the hell else are they doing with all this information?  You used to not be able to leave your house without somebody being able to know where you are and what you are doing.  Now you can’t even stay inside your house and retain any privacy.  I’m not doing anything super secret over here, but just wonder where the tailored internet marketing tactics will end.

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Coffee. Kaluha. Cream cheese icing. Chocolate chips. And cake.

TiramisuCupcake4

Is there really any other cupcake that can compare?

TiramisuCupcake5

I’m not so sure there is.

TiramisuCupcake3

But if there was, it would probably be in this book.

We should all thank Isa and Terry.

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This is one of my favorite things in Portland.  =)

It’s been replanted and the flowers were quite cheerful this morning as I ran by them.

You can see the outline of the peace sign on google maps, but go down to the Esplanade and take a gander at the groovy flowers.  They are at the corner of NE Interstate and NE Oregon.

I found an older picture of it online:

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Ok, so it doesn’t rhyme.

Anyway, as you may or may not know Trimet recently cut back services on several bus lines that run in the Portland metro area.  They left Fareless Square (FS) alone but it is apparently back on the chopping block.  One option they are considering is removing the busses from being a part of the FS, leaving only the Max and Streetcar to serve the chunk of land extending from Lloyd Center all the way through downtown to PSU.

I’m not typically a person that would attempt to rally people but the FS saves me about $700 a year, and we aren’t just talking about me here.  Being that PSU is located within the FS I’d be willing to bet a large percentage of students, faculty, and staff use this mode of transportation to get to work.  This doesn’t even begin to account for the plethora of people that migrate downtown daily to go to work, shopping, out to eat, etc.  This also doesn’t account for any other downtown traffic that typically makes good use of the busses.

So, if they restrict the FS to the Max and Streetcar only can you even imagine how crowded they would be?  Most of the busses I am on, day and night, are fairly full during the week, as has been the Max during my experiences.  Further more, if bus service in the FS area is no longer free many people will likely just drive their cars, which will increase traffic downtown (which would be quite bad), which will also increase pollution, which will eventually decrease our quality of life… you see where I’m going.

Why don’t you just suck it up and pay for the bus service every day you ask?  Because it’s too damn pricey.  The way Trimet currently sells fares is in 2 hour increments.  So a 2 hour ticket for all zones is $2.30 for an adult, or $2 for 1 or 2 zones.  I happen to be at school longer than 2 hours every day, and I’m pretty sure most people work more than 2 hours every day.  So to get back home I, and everybody else, will have to pay another $2.30.  So $4.60 a day times 5 (working) days a week times 50 weeks (say you take a vacation) a year equals $1,150.  Trimet may be hurting for cash but last time I checked so were most Americans.

Speaking of the economy, cutting back routes in, or eliminating, the FS will have a negative impact on stores, restaurants, bars, etc.  I myself have a tendency to go to locations that are on or close to the FS.  There are several businesses that likely get a large portion of their business due to the fact that they are easy to get to.  If the FS no longer exists, their sales will likely go down, or worse.

You may wonder if I have a point to writing this, and I do.  Trimet is hosting an open house on July 13th for the public to voice their opinions.  If you can’t make it to that send them an email at comments@trimet.org and ask them to not change the FS, or if they do change it ask for them to restructure their fare system to something like a per trip system.  I don’t mind paying to get to school every day, but I can’t afford it with their current price structure.  I ride the bus about 7 miles a day; it shouldn’t cost me $4 for 7 miles.

Portland seems to be a city that listens (sometimes) to its citizens so speak up about this.  I think the FS has been around since the 70’s.  I believe I heard on TV that they plan to reinstate FS (if they eliminate it) when the economy is better, but I think we’ve all heard ideas like that before and know that they don’t usually happen that way.

Links: Map of Fareless Square, Proposed Changes to FS, Bus Frequency Reduction

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