Worldview: The Rambling Road: Are we awake?

Unfortunately, sometimes we’re awake when we don’t want to be. Insomnia has many and various causes, but for some people the problem is both chronic and enduring.

I’ve struggled with sleep as long as I can remember. For whatever reason, I’m more awake late at night and I tend to hit my stride just about the time everyone else is ready for bed. Being a night owl makes living what most people call a normal life difficult at best.

But the problem is that it’s not just staying up late. My body seems to have an awake switch that, once its turned on, no matter how tired I might otherwise be, I’m awake. There is no real rhyme or reason to that switch. It can stay on for one day, wake me up in the middle of the night, or in my worst circumstances, keep me awake for weeks.

I’ve learned to cope with that kind of insomnia for the most part, but I’ve discovered that it makes recovering from an illness a challenge I did not anticipate facing. Now, in addition to the challenge of being awake at appropriate times, I have to make sure that I am not so fatigued I cause myself further harm.

That said, it is a problem that can be managed. I have to be careful with when and how much caffeine I consume, and I’m discovering that how much, when, and what kind of calories I consume can contribute as well. As with most things, this is a learning experience, and as I learn, I will continue to share what I know with you.

DLH

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Worldview: Food: The problem with making your own food…

The problem with making your own food is that you actually have to make it.

It’s amazing to me how, in certain ways, lazy we moderns are compared to our ancestors or people living in parts of the world without our standard of living. Granted, all sorts of measures say we’re the most productive humans ever, but those measures treat modernity as the pinnacle of civilization to this point, which fact remains to be proven.

It wasn’t all that long ago that failing to produce one’s own food meant starvation and death rather than a late night run to the grocery or Taco Bell even in our own culture. Perhaps our ancestors weren’t as productive on the modernity scale, but they certainly knew how to survive without the incredibly large and fragile web of dependence we’ve created for ourselves.

Nevertheless, I consider returning to a form of their productivity worth pursuing, but for me, it’s a constant battle to actually do it. I have to remember to proof my sourdough starter before the bread runs out or start my next cheese run in enough time that it’s ready when I want to eat it.

Perhaps the problem is that I have the luxury of thinking of it as a problem. For my ancestors, it was life itself. For me, at least as of yet, it’s a luxury and a novelty. I’m not saying I want to be at risk of starving, but I do want to take the undertaking more seriously.

DLH

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Worldview: Coffee: The thing about artisanal things

The coffee roasting I do is probably best defined as artisanal. That word tends to conjure the image in most people’s minds of a skilled craftsperson working tirelessly to produce masterpiece after masterpiece in his or her chosen form, and to a great degree, that image is correct.

Most of the time.

The fact is, however, that even for the most skilled craftsperson, things sometimes go wrong. And so it is with coffee.

This summer I’ve been having quality problems with some of my coffee, especially my Tanzanian Peaberry Mt. Meru Estate. Something has just been off with it. Between two batches roasted one right after the other to the same time and temperature, one will under roast and one will over roast. One will crack quickly and heavily where another will never crack. This problem has generated the first complaints I have ever had about the quality of my coffee, to the point that I feel I need to discuss it here.

I will be the first person to admit there is a problem. The fact is I haven’t quite solved it yet. Coffee roasting is a complex process at any level, but in my little roastery I have to deal with a variety of variables that makes the problem more complex than most. My roastery is not climate controlled, so I have little control over temperature and humidity. Both of these factors do things to the beans, and in the case of the Tanzanian, I suspect the wild swings in humidity we’ve had this summer are the culprit.

On the upside of this problem, it has forced me to revisit my roasting process in a very direct way. I’ve even added new, more precise equipment to help me sort out certain specific factors that contribute to the quality of a roast. Yet, even with those factors in place, the problem persists, and I continue to work on it.

So, with all that said, I want to pass on to you, dear coffee drinker, this reality: if it’s bad, don’t drink it, even if it’s artisanal and even if you paid a lot of money for it. If it’s bad and I roasted it, let me know. I will replace every ounce of coffee I’ve roasted for you until it meets your satisfaction.

And, that last bit is why artisanal coffee–or food or clothing or whatever–is superior. We artisans care about what we produce and want to make it right. I hope that fact alone continues to earn your business.

DLH

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Worldview: Underhanded

In American politics, at least, underhanded tactics are a time tested way to bully one’s political adversaries into doing what one wants them to do. Barack Obama seems particularly versed in underhandedness, as he once again demonstrated yesterday.

The problem, as is usually true with underhanded political tactics, is that it does nothing to solve the problem and will likely make the problem worse. Obama has used fear to motivate millions of Americans to badger their representatives into doing something that could very easily prove destructing for the country, and he did so to achieve political goals that could very easily prove destructive to the country.

Let’s face reality: Social Security is part of the reason our federal government is so far in debt to begin with, and without substantial reform–yes, even cuts–to the program, our federal government cannot remain solvent. The specter of checks not going out in August is just the tip of a very deep iceberg for a government that borrows almost half of every dollar it spends.

If the president wants to be a real leader, he should present a plan that might actually save the government from default, both now and in the future. Instead, he makes the same old tired arguments he always has: tax the rich, spend like a drunk sailor on shore leave.

In the meantime, he fiddles while Washington burns, and now his song has been tuned to make people dance in fear.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...