Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Angry Catfish

I can now say that I have a list of favorite places named after angry fish.
  1. The Angry Trout (a hippy-dippy, we made the mustard and the toilet paper today out of recycled bio-organic vegan after market coop goods restaurant in northern Minnesota)
  2. The Angry Catfish (a half Intelligencia, half bike shop serving awesome coffee and expensive bicycles in south Minneapolis)
First, if you live in Minneapolis you should visit the Angry Catfish. It is large, unique, quiet, and they have a Synesso, siphons, and pour-overs. It is a great 3rd wave shop to add to our collection in the Cities. You have Black Sheep in South St. Paul (for those of you visiting your Grandma), Rustica on Lake Calhoun (a coffee snob playground), Kopplin's in St. Paul (for those who love to sit in the laps of strangers bonded by the fact that you both now have slightly thinner wallets), and now The Angry Catfish (for hipsters with pants that match their super skinny custom bicycles).

Someone should organize a tour.

I had a ton of time to chat with the baristas, write, read, and be human. I am so glad that Jesus said that sabbath was made for man, not the other way around. Otherwise a day of cross-town biking and coffee chat would make me feel like I was wasting time. But it isn't wasting time. In fact, whatever you need to do in order to realize (or remember) who you are is more than worth the time.

Rob Bell once said that very few people have done the long hard work of the soul, and I understand why. We are good at the world's variety of hard work--busyness, rushed schedules, merciless efficiency. But we are novices at the slow, introspective and contemplative work that can make you whole.

Whatever slows you down, do it. Find a way to build that routine into the rhythm of your life. Set aside time to do whatever it takes to simmer enough to hear that quiet and fleeting voice of God. It will be worth it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Geeked-Out Boiler

I have a problem.
I love coffee too much, and since becoming a super-busy teacher I have now had to move my passion for coffee into the part of the brain reserved for thoughts of tropical beaches, mountain overlooks, and fresh pancakes. This part of the brain is deemed the "Happy place" by scientists.

In the Happy Place, coffee is given unrestrained access to 80% of the operating capacity of my brain for about 3/4 of the day. Above is the result.

What is it? Well, I have been tinkering with my Chemex coffee brewer for a few weeks, and have discovered that thermal stability is everything. In order to maintain the ideal 195-205 F for the duration of the brewer, either you need to insulate the kettle or find a way to manually reheat the water during the 3-4 minutes that it takes to brew.

Today, Kristin is at the Mall of America with her folks, so that means a free kitchen, car, and no voice of reason. So, I went to Home Depot and purchased a length of sink-hose and a valve and began tinkering with a way to siphon water out of the tank without pouring...I now have a burned mouth and upper lip!

2 hours of fiddling later, and now I have a fully functioning siphon (that doesn't burn your mouth). Instead of worrying about keeping the kettle within the target temperature range by trying to better insulate, now I can simply press the boil button whenever the temp (read by my probe thermometer) drops to about 198. A 3 second pulse brings it quickly up to 200.

Will it make better coffee? Who knows. If you know me, you know that I am often satisfied more with the pursuit than the result. Yes, I will use it to make coffee, but more importantly it was fun to build.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Time to Be, Just Be

Does anyone know why President's Day is a holiday? I definitely didn't celebrate anything presidential this weekend. Don't get me wrong, I will always advocate for as many meaningless holidays as possible.

Because this holiday has no point and no time consuming associated celebration, I was able to take time just to be. I haven't just been in a long time. School is consuming, and if you allow it, it will find a way into every minute of your life. Planning, delivering, considering, and stressing are all possible to do at any time of the day--including right when you wake up, while you are having a meaningful conversation, when you are eating, when you are showering, and while you are dreaming. There is no clear division between work and rest, and so you quickly forget what it means to not work.

I had forgotten what it meant to be, to just be. I once heard someone say that he took a sabbath rest because he needed time to remember that the world gets along fine without him and that he was loved just because he was alive. Today I finally felt like I was alive. That I had permission to just exist without marking anything off of a checklist (I could wallpaper the apartment in checklists). I need sabbath to be free from checklist thinking.

I thank God for Presidents Day. I thank God for a meaningless holiday that allowed me the space to remember who I am, and that I am more than the sum of my accomplishments.

Here's to Presidents Day.