Thursday, January 31, 2008 team presentation

team green to go really green in 2008
after several months of planning, research, and long, cold nights in wood shop, lane anderson and the entire elite cycling team unveiled their all new look for 2008 today at a mid-day ceremony at the sylvan amphitheatre in greenwood park in des moines.
the new team bikes, made exclusively and entirely of reclaimed wood from houses acquired through foreclosure auctions in polk county, are custom-built to each rider's requirements and fit, and are uci-compliant, to fit the team's schedule which will see them travelling and racing throughout the entire western hemisphere. they weigh the uci-minimum 14.2 pounds, depending on the current relative humidity. [when completely de-humidified, the bikes can shed an additional two pounds, taking them under the weight limit, and increasing the stiffness of the frame.]

a close-up of the bike's drive train reveals the wooden srm power meter crankset and specially-designed speedplay pedals.

the chains feature a proprietary blend of native and exotic/tropical woods, and have been pre-treated with anderson's sealant and waterproofing. also unveiled its new team kit, a state-of-the-art, straight-from-the-designer's-worktable 21st century blend of lycra, spandex, and a fiber called "freedom." good job with logo placement, terry!

the team is sure to get some press this year.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

training in colorado

my friend garrett abandoned us for a second time about a year ago. every time the rat bastard gets good, he splits. at least this time, he's continuing to ride and train. he's living and working in denver, and regularly gets up to boulder to ride with ralph and kelly ruddick.
and he finally has a blog.
already i've learned that really good cyclists just take the bus.
i had no idea!
we've never take the bus when i've been out there.

johnny, be good!

oh, i'll find something to do.
thanks for asking, though.

overheard at media day at the superbowl

the zen-like brady was asked:
"what's my purpose in life?" wow; that's pretty deep.

"i throw a football."
i think i like this guy. go pats!

the terrorists have won

smoke 'em if ya got 'em, rudy.
buh bye!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

why the tv is always on a different channel when you turn it on

* * * * *
there's just something charming about this woman. [click the pic]

twin cities bike swap & "bridges of iowa"

my friend mark verhulst sent me the following email. mark's a great guy, one of those ames riders from the mid-80s to early 90s who would show up every day for the 500 pm brookside ride. i remember when he first appeared on the scene, he had a squeaky old bike, and although we all tried like hell to drop hi, we couldn't. mark later got a summer internship at trek, and would show up in the fall with a weird, plain black bike that was lighter than shit. wouldn't tell us anything about the details of its construction, which frustrated all the engineers who were also bikies. mark's been living in the twin cities for a number of years, and for the past few years, he's been in charge of the twin cities bike swap, held each february [sounds like they're moving to october this fall]. it's like the big one in colorado each year, but several hours closer and much cheaper. you really ought to check it out, whether to pick up some good stuff, or to spy on him to learn how to put on your own next year. it would be ice if we could get one here in des moines before the iowa city folks beat us to it. [if you haven't heard, the word on the street is that they might try to hold a swap meet in conjunction with jingle cross next year. maybe we should have one here in des moines before that?]

Hey Iowa guys, before I forget you should know (my) Twin Cities Bike Swap is coming up, Sunday February 10. The change in venue has caused us to get a late start on promotion and the location is not as central as I'd like so I'm thinking it will be a little smaller than last year. However, it's still a cool event that is well worth attending. Please let people down there know. See for info. Next fall (October) it's looking like we are going to move to the State Fair grounds for our future swaps where we will likely throw in a cross race (and maybe an alley cat race too) for good measure.
* * * * *
and speaking of good measure, i heard from some other good friends who have a great thing going on here in des moines, and they can always use our help.
pat and gabrielle coughlin run a place called "bridges of iowa", a small, private, not-for-profit substance abuse program in des moines. i've had the pleasure of working with these folks over the years, and they're good people doing a good thing for folks who really need the help, and who often don't get the help they need.
pat wrote the following:
"Please continue to keep me in mind if you ever run across individuals wanting to donate bicycles to a good cause.
My clients at Bridges of Iowa, Inc are always in need."
there is contact information on their website. maybe rather than selling your old bike, you might want to consider making a contribution to the folks at bridges of iowa. you will actually help someone go far.

punk rock

the phrase "punk rock" has been getting bandied about the capitol city quite a bit lately, so it is with great pleasure that as i sit here working, i'm listening to terry gross interview mick jones and tony james of the band carbon/silicon on fresh air. if you missed the show, you can catch it on am640 [either on line or over the actual airwaves] this afternoon at 300 pm, or click here after 400 pm for the podcast from the fresh air website. the boys sound great, the music is fantastic, and to hear their stories and their perspectives on life, music, and friendship through the years is refreshing and just pretty damned normal, a mon avis.
it's worth a listen. you can listen to the band's music, download a bunch, or actually buy their record. they talk about the joys of walking about with an album under one's arm back in the day, and also of the evils of the "shuffle" setting on ipods.

chatter from sources in the fields tell me...

...that there just might be some crazy shit going on in tipton in july!

Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 11:10 AM
Subject: Re: Fw: BikeIowa group Re: old guys
Apparently, I was mistaken --maybe you did win that sprint (hard to believe, although I do remember that I was sprinting on a flat rear tire).However --and more importantly-- THE Fields RAGBRAI BASH did happen and it turned out to be the wildest party ever put on by one man alone. There were still dozens of bikie carcasses strewn throughout my parents' (and the neighbors') lawn the next morning. It took until the following June for the lawn to recover. And now, when anyone talks about it, Keith and Ditter still shake their heads in disgust.
Regardless, "The 25th Anniversary Fields RAGBRAI BASH" to commemorate that historic day will commence at 4:30 p.m., July 25, at the corner of 10th and Mulberry in Tipton Iowa. Free T-Shirts and the Beer's on me! Besides, the Tipton Sprint Title must be returned to its rightful owner--me. Otherwise the party's off. --Sluggo lives!
R Dickson wrote: See Fields, I told you that I won the Tipton sprint. --Randy
Original Message From: "Mike Merulla" To: "Scott Dickson" ; Cc: "RM", "Walter Bleser", "Jeff Fields", "Denny, Jim" Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 8:15 AM
Subject: RE: BikeIowa group Re: old guys
I see that DOGBRAI will have a stage finish in Tipton this year. Fields, will you still have to win the sprint? I remember your famous battle cry, "If I don't win the sprint, the party's off!". Dogbait then attacked in the gravel, and took the sprint. I don't think that party ever did happen. --Nanners
* * * * * * * * * *
don't say you weren't warned: you newbies who have only done the ragby for fifteen, twenty years should make every effort to see how it's supposed to be done--by folks who probably can no longer do it like that.
* * * * * * * * * *
my zen thought for the day: said the buddhist to the hot dog vendor: "make me one with everything."
now go, make peace with yourself, and don't break any bones doing it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

from the orphanage mailbag

Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican
By John Gray - Cincinnati, Ohio
Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised.
All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employers medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
Joe takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained. Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some tree hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government subsidized ride to work; it saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees. You see, some liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medicals benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some liberal didn't think he should loose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
Its noon time, Joe needs to make a Bank Deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the depression.
Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten Mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his life-time.
Joe is home from work, he plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to dads; his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electric until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification. (Those rural Republican's would still be sitting in the dark)
He is happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to. After his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home.
He turns on a radio talk show, the host's keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. (He doesn't tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day) Joe agrees, "We don't need those big government liberals ruining our lives; after all, I'm a self made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have".
By John Gray Cincinnati, Ohio -

life imitates art

when a feller becomes president, a feller hasta learn all sorts of new stuff,
and most of the time, ya just don't have the chance to be yourself. but when i DO get the chance, i don't let nobody stop me.
that goes double for my taste in art, too.
like when i looked in putin's eyes and could see his soul, well, i can look at a painting, and know when it speaks to me. that's how i discovered my all-time favorite painting. care to learn why i love it so? read here.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

we accept orphans of all stripes here

... and thus is part of my torture, my cross to bear. the coffee cup shown above was left on the front step of the orphanage over the weekend, apparently from a coffee lover who wished to remain anonymous and take advantage of iowa's safe haven law.
i promise to give this cup a good and loving home, and to fill it only with the finest of caffeine.
but i can't help but suspect it was left on my front step as some sort of insidious, sick joke, the love child of a demented, depraved soul.
but it's pretty cool, and it joins a growing collection of raccoon-related items abandoned on our steps. i particularly appreciate the authentic-appearing wool jersey-clad and helmetless rider astride a red fixed-gear bike, not at all unlike my old trek.
i don't quite understand the flag up the raccoon's ass, however.

here at the orphanage, we don't have ol' lonely, the maytag repairman; we have suzie, the samsung goddess of suds and softeners.

we are conducting a little experiment here at the orphanage: tired of some of the dirty phone calls we've been receiving lately, the orphans decided to resolve the matter by throwing the orphanage cell phone in with the laundry. rather than throwing into the dryer, we disassembled the major components of the phone, soaked the critical parts in alcohol [all we had was the ceremonial communion jose cuervo gold], and now we are letting it air dry overnight. if it doesn't work [it should--i found it on the internets], look forward to my upcoming "new cell phone review."

sunday's obits

waxing a bit nostalgic, i fear, i'm writing about two folks from my childhood. i never met either of them, but both left large impressions upon my formative years.

first is john stewart, a prolific songwriter and producer, who died at 68, and who was a member of the kingston trio, a fan of which i was even before stewart joined. but his lasting impression upon me was as the person who penned the song "daydream believer," which was a monster hit for the monkees right at the same time i was dating jean newman in junior high, ninth grade [ah, she was mere child at the time, a sassy little seventh grader...], so every time the chorus sings "cheer up, sleepy jean..." i still get all tingly. can't help it; first true love and all that.

then, there's allan melvin, who apparently had a recurring role in "the brady bunch," but for me will always be the bad guy from "the andy griffith show," pulling the wool over barney's eyes. prior to that, and how he got the mayberry gig, was through his work on "the phil silvers show." he was a wonderful character actor, right up there with gus the fireman on "leave it to beaver."

how i wasted my childhood...


kennedy and family, august, 1962
obama and family, september, 2007

A President Like My Father
By CAROLINE KENNEDY - from the new york times, 1/27/08
OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.
My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.
Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.
We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.
Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.
Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.
I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.
Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.
I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.
I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

--Caroline Kennedy is the author of “A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love.”

Friday, January 25, 2008

jack and the magic bean bus

chapter 15

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. . . . Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." --John Donne

A church bell had just sounded its first chime for the eleven o’clock hour as an army of raccoons rushed into the park from several directions at once. They had been tracking Jack by the scent of day-old raccoon pee on the rear wheel of his bike.

Now that Bart had taken off on Jack’s bike, the raccoon army mistakenly converged on him instead of Jack, who stood like a statue on the other side of the park and watched the pursuit in amazement.

He had known since yesterday that he was being chased, but now Jack knew what was chasing him. The first two lines of G-Pickle’s song drifted back through Jack’s mind as the church bell chimed a second time.

“Nip and tuck, danger, duck,
Raccoons riding in a truck."

It was too dangerous to stay here any longer and Jack was supposed to be at Brendan’s house at eleven to catch a ride to Denver. Without a bike, Jack couldn’t make it in time. Then the second two lines of G-Pickle’s song drifted through Jack’s mind.

"To dodge them all, you’ll need some luck,
And a bike that’s in the muck.”

Instantly, Jack knew what he had to do. He ran to the park bench and sat down. This was the exact spot where Jack had been sitting when Dog Bait lost his beater bike in the river. The church bell chimed a third time.

Jack looked directly from the bench to the light pole on the opposite bank of the river. He had seen the beater bike plunge underwater along that exact line of sight, about ten feet from the shore. Jack aimed himself at the distant light pole sprinted down to the water as the church bell chimed a fourth time.

Before the church bell could chime a fifth time, Jack was in the muddy water, feeling around for whatever part of the bike he could get a hold of, desperately pulling it up onto the riverbank, and jumping on while water gushed from inside the frame and handlebars.

As the church bell chimed for the sixth time, Jack and the beater bike were slowly picking up speed on a sidewalk bordering the park. With one last glance to the other side of the park, Jack saw the entire army of raccoons pounce on his bicycle and on Bart.

For just a moment, Jack saw that Bart appeared to be half riding and half running in what looked like a woman’s enormous fur coat. In the next moment, Bart was running across the park like a rugby player, tossing and punting raccoon footballs in all directions. But finally, the scrum of angry raccoons grew large enough to swallow him whole.

The church bell chimed for a seventh time, but Jack was already at the foot of the Jefferson Street hill with a full head of steam and a beater bike that was rapidly dropping weight as the water drained from it.
Jack climbed like he was off the front on the last lap of the Old Capital Criterium in the Pro/1/2 race. He was just over the top of the hill by the time he heard the church bell’s eighth chime.

A white-knuckle left turn across traffic and skidding through a crosswalk full of pedestrians marked the ninth chime.

Two chimes to go. His ride to Denver was due to leave at eleven o’clock, and Jack didn’t intend to miss it.
Jack threw all of his effort into the pedals and reached Davenport Street on the tenth chime of the church bell. Jack sprinted for all he was worth.

He nearly laid the bike down as he carved through the next corner but saved it just in time to avoid bouncing off of a city bus. He had just enough time to blink before he spotted Brendan’s address and locked up the brakes, jumped the curb, and skidded to a stop in front of Brendan’s porch. The church bell chimed eleven o’clock. He was out of breath and still soaked with river water, but Jack had made it on time.

“Hey Jack,” said Brendan as he came out of the front door with duffle bag and a backpack. “You’re soaking wet. What have you been doing? Ghost riding cruisers into the river with Dog Bait and Sluggo?”
Jack just stood there, still catching his breath. Brendan was surprisingly close to the truth. “You’ll have to sit on a towel until you dry off,” said Brendan as he pulled one from the duffle bag and handed it to Jack. They walked over to Brendan’s car, a big white ’79 Chrysler 300 that looked more like a three hundred foot yacht. Captain Brendan asked, “Do you have a bag? I thought you were bringing a bike.”

“Uh, no,” said Jack between breaths. “I changed my mind about the bike.” Jack was just starting to realize that he had lost his bicycle and that he would probably never see it again. His bike had been through a lot with him, and though it was no more than a mile away from where they stood right now, there was no safe way to go back and rescue it. Jack knew that he had to follow Sister Kim’s instructions and escape, no matter what the cost.
“Well, suit yourself,” shrugged Brendan. “Let’s go. I want to reach Denver by ten tonight.” They hopped in, and Brendan skillfully piloted the big boat-like car away from the curb and down the street. They were soon on the interstate heading west.

to be continued...
[a serial by little orphan dbax]


okay, mystery reader fans, here's a contest for you:

what's the deal with all these weird photos? leave your guesses in the comments section.


and now, a word or two--plus 20 Gs--about coffee

an alert reader, and--in the grand scheme of things a relatively recent but now irrevocably hooked--coffee junkie, knowing my love of the bean, sent me a link to this article from the new york times. because i've talked coffee here and elsewhere, and am aware of the keen interest in the topic among many of my readers--dog love you all, by the way--i've decided to reprint it here in it's entirety. it's pretty interesting, and i look forward to one or two of my friends actually buying one of things brewers in the not-too-distant future.

At Last, a $20,000 Cup of Coffee

Published: January 23, 2008
---WITH its brass-trimmed halogen heating elements, glass globes and bamboo paddles, the new contraption that is to begin making coffee this week at the Blue Bottle Café here looks like a machine from a Jules Verne novel, a 19th-century vision of the future.
Called a siphon bar, it was imported from Japan at a total cost of more than $20,000. The cafe has the only halogen-powered model in the United States, and getting it here required years of elliptical discussions with its importer, Jay Egami of the Ueshima Coffee Company.
“If you just want equipment you’re not ready,” Mr. Egami said in an interview. But, he added, James Freeman, the owner of the cafe, is different: “He’s invested time. He’s invested interest. He is ready.” Professionals have long been willing to pay prices in the five figures for the perfect espresso machine, but the siphon bar does not make espresso. It makes brewed coffee, as does another high-end coffee maker, the $11,000 Clover, which makes one cup at a time. Together, they signal the resurgence of brewing among the most obsessive coffee enthusiasts.
Could this be the age of brewed coffee? “We’re right there at the threshold,” said George Howell of Terroir Coffee, a retailer of roasted and green beans. “Coffee has never been a noble beverage because the means to perfectly produce it haven’t existed,” said Mr. Howell, who is also a founder of the Cup of Excellence, an annual competition that seeks to identify the best beans in each coffee-producing nation.
But, he said, with recent advances in coffee-making technology, “now you can get perfect extraction.”
[for slideshow, click here]
Mr. Freeman is not trying to end the era of espresso. He still starts his days with a cappuccino, and his cafe serves drinks mostly from espresso machines, including a lovingly refurbished San Marco from the 1980s. But he’s excited by the possibilities of brewed coffee.
“Siphon coffee is very delicate,” he said. “It’s sweeter and juicier, and the flavors change as the temperature changes. Sometimes it has a texture so light it’s almost moussey.”
A professionwide interest in brewed coffee has driven the stealth spread of the Clover. Introduced less than two years ago, it has become standard equipment at some of the country’s most progressive cafes, including Intelligentsia in Chicago, La Mill in Los Angeles and Caffe Vita in Seattle.
Stumptown, of Portland, Ore., recently installed four Clovers in its location in the Ace Hotel. New York City now has five of the devices, two of them at the Chelsea branch of Café Grumpy, which has used them to dispense 60,000 cups in a little over a year.
[for photos, click here]
So far, the Clover is still something of a cult object, with just over 200 machines scattered around the world. But it might soon become a common sight: Starbucks has just bought two.
Designed by three Stanford graduates, it lets the user program every feature of the brewing process, including temperature, water dose and extraction time. (It even has an Ethernet connection that can feed a complete record of its configurations to a Web database.) Not only is each cup brewed to order, but the way each cup is brewed can be tailored to a particular bean — light or dark roast, acidic or sweet, and so on.
The Clover works something like an inverted French press: coffee grounds go into a brew chamber, hot water shoots in and a powerful piston slowly lifts and plunges a filter, forcing the coffee out through a nozzle in the front. The final step, when a cake of spent grounds rises majestically to the top, is so titillating to coffee fanatics that one of them posted a clip of it on YouTube.

“There is some gee-whizness to it,” said Doug Zell, a founder of Intelligentsia. “But hopefully the focus goes back to the cup of coffee.”
At the Stumptown Annex in Portland, the focus is entirely on the cup of coffee. As many as 35 different coffees are on the menu at the small cafe, and unlike the six other Stumptown locations, it doesn’t have a single espresso machine.
The Annex first brewed individual cups with cone filters, but now everything is made with a Clover. “You get more of the delicate and floral flavors, the subtle sweetness, the notes of perfume and citrus,” said Duane Sorensen, the owner of Stumptown. “The delicate, pretty, sexy flavors show in a Clover.”
“A Clover gives you greater control over the variables,” Mr. Zell said. “It’s a clean, crisp cup, and it tends to play better to coffees that are higher toned, brighter. Like the coffees of East Africa, or the more intricate coffees of the Americas.”
It is those brighter notes that excite serious coffee drinkers as they take an interest in single-origin, micro-lot and direct-trade beans — those from specific regions, even particular growers, that are prized for their distinctive characteristics.
“Steep coffee in water, and you’re going to taste gradations of flavor you’re simply not going to find in espresso,” said David Arnold, director of culinary technology at the French Culinary Institute in New York. Though he is an espresso partisan, Mr. Arnold allows that brewing highlights the more subtle flavors of single-origin and micro-lot beans. “Especially if it’s roasted fresh,” he said. “The differences are astounding.”
Where the Clover is a workhorse, and its genius is in its programming, brewing coffee with a siphon bar is a fickle art and takes patience to master.
The secret is in how it’s stirred.
A siphon pot has two stacked glass globes, and works a little like a macchinetta, that stove-top gadget wrongly called an espresso maker by generations of graduate students. As water vapor forces water into the upper globe the coffee grounds are stirred by hand with a bamboo paddle. (In Japan, siphon coffee masters carve their own paddles to fit the shape of their palms.)
The goal is to create a deep whirlpool in no more than four turns without touching the glass. Posture is important. So is timing: siphon coffee has a brewing cycle of 45 to 90 seconds.
“The whirlpool, it messes with your mind,” said Mr. Freeman, the owner of the Blue Bottle. “There’s no way to rush it.”
Mr. Freeman said he practiced stirring plain water for months to develop muscle memory before he brewed his first cup of siphon coffee. Even now he starts every day with a five-minute warm-up. The evidence of good technique is in the sediment: the grounds should form a tight dome dotted with small bubbles, the sign of proper extraction.
Mr. Freeman keeps pictures of his domes on his iPhone. “It’s active, sucking out the air and foam,” he said about one of them. “I love the kinetic energy, the aliveness. That’s my best dome.”
[for photos, click here]
Even if the siphon bar turns coffee making into a spectacle, the biggest difference is in the flavor it extracts from prized beans like Gololcha, a dry-processed Ethiopian with long jammy berry notes that turn floral as the coffee cools.
“It’s kaleidoscopic,” Mr. Freeman said. “It’s forcing you to pay attention to every sip, because the next one is going to be different. I feel like when we serve it we’ll have to ask people to just pour it in their cup and smell it for the first minute or so.”

[for what it's worth, as i read and prepared this post, i was drinking a freshly-brewed cup/pot of french roast coffee [roast date january 23, from zanzibar's, of course] and had just finished eating a bowl of white rice and black beans, to which i had added some tasty little hot sauce [the whole concoction having been prepared and left behind by g pickle and cody] topped with some curry powder. the net affect of all this was a singularly tasty and lively cup of coffee. taste buds were not only cleansed, but abraded and pummeled by the spicy food, and i drained that pot of coffee in no time. wish i'd made a ten-cup rather than just a six-cup...--the mostly amped and slightly less-grumpy kim]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

hello, world!

thanks to new guy, my trusty old "somebody-did-it-himself" computer is humming [a little more quietly] again, churning out more of the same old drivel. i want to say hello to all my regular readers, give a special "welcome, hello" to first-timers, and offer a poignant hello to the visitor who has a bond with tina marie brown, a des moines cyclist who was struck and killed just over a year ago by a hit and run motorist here in des moines. it gives me a special warmth to know that you visit here frequently to read the posts about her on today's sermonette.
also, hello to the readers at yuan ze university, taoyan, t'ai-wan; in singapore; in norwich, norfolk, u.k.; and to you in toronto and winnepeg, north of the border. hello, also, to missoula, boca raton, boston, clasitoga, mpls & st paul, and elsewhere.
i'm just happy to have you drop by.



still stinging after the embarassing failure of our usually intrepid snoops in the big apple, today's sermonette is proud to disclose this, scooping even the awesome folks at, iowa's premier website for all things bike racing [and quickly growing to one of the best source for the midwest]:
cup o' no dirt cup presentation held in local coffee shop
bitter cold temperatures, and the compound fracture of his left clavicle, couldn't prevent an area dignitary from making an honest man of local bike promoter dave mable sunday, january 20, 2008, when several biking enthusiasts gathered at the ritual cafe for the recognition and presentation ceremony to bicycler g pickle in honor of his completion of the rigorous "dirty hunnerd" bicycle race.
the "dirty hunnert" race required participants to complete twelve 100-mile rides during calendar year 2007, of which at least a whole lot of the distance [somewhere around 75 to 80 miles or more] be ridden on gravel roads.
local cycling historian the mostly reverend is shown above giving g pickle a hearty "thumbs up" and presenting the traditional cup of no dirt in recognition of the fact that g pickle really is the only person to complete the task as originally envisioned by its creator, dave mable, who was unable to attend the formal presentation ceremonies, held in conjunction with the iowa bike colation's bicycle summit. also pictured, giving a double thumb's up, the traditional bicycler's sign of a job well done, is tarik saleh, keynote speaker at this year's saturday night gala held at the state historical building. to learn more about tarik, and his actaully very cool presentation, read here. tarik was here from los alamos, new mexico, and spent the weekend as guests of chad and dorothy hecht.
if dave had been there, he probably would have said something like "awesome job, dude. peace out."
the presentation to g pickle was the exciting conclusion of the four day "bike summit" held annually in des moines during the crappiest weekend of jaunary each year.

From left to right:Kim Clavicle, Cody and G-Pickle, Bike Iowa's Jen, and Chad VanDenLooeyNyjsVelde. not pictured is Chad's generous wife Dorothy, who was really nice too, but was rocking out at band practice when the photo took place...Thats some good facial hair there gentlemen. [photo from tarik's blog...thanks, tarik. it really was a gas meeting and hangin out with you. i'll make every effort to be healthy and not swimming in vicodin soup next time!]

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

you're OUT?

oh, freddy, we hardly . . . [yawn] . . . knew ye . . .

this is all getting very messy

REVISED and UPDATED--823 am, cst

i'm telling you, those girls are evil.
some of you have heard my "b.p." theory.
i didn't think so.
[i still think there's something sinister about them...]