Coffee Blogs of Yore

I was just going through my bookmarks tab and found a bunch of blogs I used to check out way back when. So pour a coffee on a Clover, turn on your Bunn Bubbler and get ready for a trip down memory lane…

Why You Should Hate Coffee's Blog

Jay's Strange Blog

Putting Weird Things in Coffee

Shot Zombies

God Shot


Chemically Imbalanced

Daniel's Coffee Blog


And even though it’s not a blog, an honorable mention for this ol’ chestnut…


The Snowball Effect

It was the first snow the boy could remember. Like the first time anyone sees snow, he was amazed by the awesome power the white powder seemed to have over the world. Snow held the world still so that every second that passed seemed to teeter on existence for a beat and then fall into an abyss of awe and wonder. The boy’s father worked a lot, too much his father would say many years later. But on this snow day the father stopped working so that he could take the boy out to play in the snow. The boy would never forget that moment.

The father noticed the boy staring quietly out the window, watching the snowfall, watching the world turn white. The boy looked outside, steam fogging the window in front of his gaping mouth. The boy kind of understood that this was what happens to rain when it’s really cold outside but this seemed far more fun than rain ever could be. The father stopped working, put down his pencil, closed the account book he had been writing in and took off his glasses. After putting on his shoes and winter coat, he bundled the boy up. They both giggled as the father stuffed the boy’s hands into mittens and made a cap snug on his head. Grabbing the boy by the mittened hand, the father took him out in the nearly blinding whiteness outside.

The boy hadn’t played much with his father until that point in their lives. The father worked too much, just like he would say many years later. But that day they played for hours. First they just explored the sensation of being in the snow. They let snowflakes dance down to their tongues, the crystal’s melting demise making their tongues tingle. The boy spent a lot of time just picking up snow and dusting it from his mittens. They made snow angels, they built a snowman and even had a playful father and son snowball fight. The father let the son win of course. As the sun’s light became eclipsed by the grey of the sky and the dark of the night, they started to end their day in the snow.

As they were walking towards home the boy looked up at his father and told him that this was the best day ever and the most fun he’d ever had, that he loved spending time with his father. The boy asked if the father could stop work to play with him more often. The father kneeled down so that he could look his son in the eyes, his knee in the snow sounding like a muffled crunch. He took a small handful of powdered snow and put it in the boy’s mitten, cupped his own hands around his son’s hands and together than made a snowball. He told his son that they would save this snowball, forever, as a reminder of the day, of the fun they had. This snowball would be a reminder that sometimes you had to stop and have fun, spend time with the ones you love, enjoy life. Once inside, they took the snowball, put it in a Ziploc bag and placed it in the freezer.

The boy’s mother had died years before, so many years in fact that all the boy could remember of his mother was a comforting smell. Years later, the boy would try to identify that smell – always smelling perfumes, foods, shampoos, deodorants – always searching to put a name to that comforting olfactory sensation that dangled in the back of his memory, just out of reach. The father worked hard to support himself and the boy, but maybe too much, as he would say many years later. But after that one snow day, the father would often stop and play with the boy. He still worked a lot but on occasion he would look up from his account book and see a yearning in the boy’s eyes. The father would put down his pencil, close the account book he had been writing in, take off his glasses and play with his son. Sometimes they would play cards, sometimes they would go outside and throw a baseball and sometimes, if the weather was just right, they would play in the snow.

The boy grew up and started to play more without his father. He played baseball at school with his father cheering him on in the stands. He played clarinet in the school band and his father would tap his foot while sitting in the audience. Even though he didn’t play with the boy so much anymore, the father would still stop and watch the boy play. It always made the boy feel proud and full of love when he saw his father watching him play ball or clarinet. The boy would never forget those moments.

Eventually the boy became a man and moved out of his father’s home. His father gave him speeches about responsibility and prudence, things that he thought men should know and practice. The man was given some money and a wristwatch that had been on his father’s wrist for as long as the man could remember. His father told him that the money would help him start his new life and the watch would help him find time to stop and enjoy life. His father also gave him a Ziploc bag with a snowball in it. The man looked at the snowball, once so large that it barely fit his mittened hands but now the size of a golfball in his grown hands – hands that looked more like his father’s did when they made the snowball together many years ago. The father gave the man the snowball and told him that he should always stop and take time to play, to love life, to never forget the day they stopped to watch the snowfall take over their small world together, their first snowman, their first snow ball fight. The man took the Ziploc bag with the snowball and hugged his father. The man would never forget that moment.

The man soon found a wife, a wife that soon became the mother of his son. When his son was born the man’s father was already in the hospital because he had fallen ill. The night the man’s son was born, he led his father by the arm from his wing of the hospital to the where the newborn baby was. The man’s father walked slowly these days, feet skimming the floor like sandpaper being lightly rubbed against soft grain wood. When the man held the baby close to his father it brought tears to both of them, as well as smiles. The man’s father had a breathing tube forked in his nostrils so that it looked almost like a mustache, a translucent crescent hanging over his lips. When the man looked at his father he saw this but it only accented his father’s smile. As they stood together holding the baby, the man’s heart was still for a moment as his memory flashed to something –  something dangling just out of reach. He smelled the air between his father and his son, it smelt familiar, comforting. As he smelled the indescribable yet undeniable smell of a newborn baby mingled with two generations of his family he realized what it reminded him of: his mother.

Soon after this, the man was able to leave the hospital with his wife and their son. Unfortunately, the man’s father was not able to leave. He would never leave the hospital ,in fact.

One night the man got a call from the hospital saying his father was seizing and would not live through the night. The man was barely sleeping, as a father does when a newborn baby is in the house, so he answered the phone on the second ring and was immediately alert. Upon hearing the news about his father, the man kissed his wife on the lips, kissed his son on the forehead and put on his shoes and winter coat. He went to the kitchen, opened the freezer and pulled out a Ziploc bag with a small golfball-sized snowball in it. The man put the Ziploc bag in his coat pocket and left the house.

When the man arrived at the hospital his father was not conscious. The doctors and nurses were polite and consoling, telling the man that his father was in an induced coma to help ease him into a peaceful passing. They could rouse him from this peacefulness but that would most certainly be the beginning of the end of his life. Regardless, asleep or awake, these would be the last moments that the man would have with his father. The man asked that his father be awakened from the coma so that his father could have the last moments of his life, so that they could share this time together. A few minutes later a nurse had the man sign some papers, then injected a clear liquid into the saline drip. The man’s father opened his eyes, glassy and looking afar. It took a second or two before they focused on his son but when they did he smiled.

The man took the Ziploc bag out of his pocket, removed the golfball-sized snowball and put it in a plastic cup by the side of the bed. His father grabbed the man’s hands and they felt like sandpaper on soft grain wood as they rubbed together. They shared a few stories about how much they meant to each other, recounting moments that they thought the most important or most memorable in their time together. The father told his son that he wished he had worked less and played more, that even though they had so many good memories, there could have been more. The man talked about the day they went out into the snow and made their first snow angels, their first snowman and their first snowball fight. He told his father about how he had never forgotten when they made a snowball together and that they’d keep it forever. Then the man grabbed the cup beside the bed and showed his father the golfball-sized snowball in it, now even smaller as it melted. The father smiled wide and tears ran down the man’s cheeks as he smiled even wider. They sat like that through the night, the father going in and out of sleep and then man watching solemnly with a tolerance for being awake that only new father could understand. The man would never forget these moments.

Just before the sun came up, as the first rays of light trickled bright reds of day into deep blues of night, the man’s father awoke with a start. His eyes were immediately wide and scared, which startled the man – because he knew this was the end. The man asked his father if he was okay, if there was anything he could get for him. His father asked for a sip of water and the man instinctively grabbed the cup beside the bed, put his hand under his father’s head and gently tipped the cup to his father’s dry lips. His father closed his eyes as he drank the water, drinking the memory of their best day ever, the reminder to stop and enjoy life passing over his lips. The boy was still holding his father’s head when the constant beeping, that had been background noise up until this point, turned into a solid tone. The man’s father never opened his eyes again. The man would never forget this moment.

The man was really sad for a long time. He would try to work more because it helped him to not think about the sad things in life. Eventually, the man’s baby son grew up and became a little boy. One day, as the man worked nearby, he noticed his son looking out the window – snow falling outside, turning the world white. The man closed his computer, took off his glasses and put on his shoes and winter coat. He bundled up his son, both of them giggling as the man stuffed his son’s hands into mittens and made a cap snug on his head. Grabbing the boy by the mittened hand, the father took his son out in the nearly blinding whiteness outside. They marveled in the wonders of the snow filled, small world that they shared together right then. They made snow angels and a snowman and had a father and son snowball fight. The father let the son win of course. They played until the cold and the end of day beckoned them home. Before going into the warmth and comfort of their home, the man kneeled down so that his eyes were level with his son’s eyes. The muffled crunch of his knee in the snow sent a chill up the man’s spine. The man put a small amount of powdered snow in his son’s mittened hands, wrapped his hands around them and together they made a snowball.

Haiku Record Reviews – February 2015


Bjork – Vulnicura

That cover’s outfit

is more like vulvacura .

I miss the swan dress.

Bjork Vulnicura


Belle & Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance

Catastrophe, not

If only girls in peacetime

waited on tables.

Belle and Sebastian - Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance


Blonde Redhead – Barragan

Blonde is maybe died.

It’s easily overlooked

but you can see roots.

Blonde Redhead - Barragán


Natalie Prass – S/T

Very imPrassive

Sings from her heart to your soul

Spacebomb pantheon.

Natalie Prass


Jeff Bridges – Sleep Music

Keep your day job, Dude.

You’re even weirder than Bjork,

but you’re not as cute.

Jeff Bridges Sleep Music


Sleater Kinney – No Cities to Love

Glad to see them back,

a super solid effort,

a album to love.

Sleater Kinney - No Cities to Love


Twerps – Range Anxiety

Forgettable fun,

pleasantly like the 90s

in twenty fifteen.

Twerps - Range Anxiety


Trust & Chance: Eating My First Foraged Mushrooms

I wrote about a newfound love of mushrooms and foraging a while back in a blog post. My wife loved mushrooms and I hated them, the net result making me feel like I didn’t understand either. So I did a modest amount of research and immediately felt engulfed in a world I simply hadn’t seen before.

I never had an interest in Volkswagons until I bought a Golf TDI in 2010. I would have easily confused a Rabbit with a Golf with a freakin’ Yugo at that point. Once I was in my little diesel devil I saw them everywhere. I swear I see a Golf TDI every other day. I also see a lot of pregnant people nowadays. I don’t think I paid as much attention before parenthood but now I feel like I can spot a pregnancy at glow. Now that I’ve learned a bit about mushrooms, been on some nice collaborative forays and exhausted numerous references for identification, I feel like mushrooms are nearly everywhere. It’s their world and I just live and eat in it.

Short of sword swallowing, I think this hobby made wife more nervous than anything. There are less deadly mushroom varieties than deadly sins but my wife found every scary story on the internet that preached chastity with eating this mystical mycological fruit. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that they got to me, too. I mean seriously, have you heard about Nicholas Evans almost dying and getting a kidney transplant?!?! Reading about kidney failure or even worse from something as innocent as foraging was almost enough to scare me away from such a hobby. However, the world of mycology, the wealth of variety, the chance of finding them and the idea of collecting these endless experiences won me over.

As time passed, I kept my eyes open and did my best to learn how to identify what I found. The Audubon app and guide are great, there are many other great books, too, but eventually it was a few words of confidence from people that had more experience than I did. They were practically strangers but the confidence of a couple encouraging words were what finally tipped the trust in myself, them and some books and gave me the courage to eat mushrooms I had found on roadside forests and dank crevices of the earth. And I’m here to blog about it!


Chanterelles were first. I was on a walk in my neighborhood near an area known for flooding. This was about a month ago and we were in the midst of an awesome series of storms. I think it rained for nearly two weeks straight and the ground was exploding with mycological life. There’s a knot of land between a couple houses, on a forested corner of the winding streets of Archer Woods. On a bank of moss and mondo grass there were little orange trumpet-like Chanterelles stalks popping up from the growth. My immediate thought was, “Holy Shit! Those are chanterelles!” but I was not quite confident immediately. I was walking dogs with my sister in law and I paused and finally said that I thought those were in fact Cantharellus cibarius. I picked a handful and brought them home. Nobody believed me and they made me swear not to eat them. I was convinced so I sought out to convince them, too. False gills? Check. Forked false gills? Check. I was sure.

Bock Bock!Chicken of the woods was second, the next day. I was on the usual family walk when something caught my eye in a patch of conifers right off the road. Once you see a Laetiporus you’ll be able to recognize them from afar. They are nearly unmistakable, could be confused with a sulfur shelf but unlikely. They are also delicious and finds are usually profound (this one easily was a four pound haul). I think mostly because it looked so alien but also because she didn’t trust my mushroom identification skills, Cindy forbade me from eating this, too.

That weekend we went to our first group mushroom foray with the Piedmont Mycological Society. There was a mix of skill levels, a lot of field guides and a couple of degrees in tow at a far away conservatory. I brought the previous days’ finds with me but also found a few pounds of hedgehogs, indigo milky caps and chanterelles there. The group nearly fell on me and my chicken of the woods as I pulled it out and gave it to another forager – an offering for a society dinner the following Sunday. The knowledgeable and experienced gave bifocaled but quick glances with quick, confident “yups, chanterelles” to the orange blossoms formerly suspect. And Hydnum repandum were quickly met with a nearly ubiquitous “Mmmmm…hedgehogs.”. Cindy was sold.

On the way home she double checked the location of my neighborhood chanterelle find. We stopped by the spot and she jumped out, in the rain, to collect new fruit. Once home I could barely keep her out of the kitchen before she cleaned and cooked all of the chanterelles. We had them with some fettuccine after cooking them down in some butter and garlic. They were amazing: nutty and earthy with a hazelnut sweetness. Cindy woke up in the middle of the night and leaned over saying, “I think my stomach hurts…do you think the mushrooms were poisonous?” to which I replied, “They could only be mistaken with Jack-o-lanterns and those only give you diarrhea for 1-2 days, and I’m not mistaken.”. Needless to say we’re both still here.

The following day I went for a walk near the Eno river. I had once found a huge chicken of the woods here and the Cole Mill park on this river felt like a hot spot for foraging. I ended up finding my first ever Craterellus cornucopiodies, or black trumpet. Trumpette de la Mort“Trumpet of the dead” in French, this fungi is deceiving because it looks nasty to the untrained eye. It’s also really hard to see. Even though they grow in patches they tend to look like shadows or play on light before they look like mushrooms. But the flavor is unmistakable, bold and beautiful. I hear that some chefs prefer the taste over truffles and it’s easy to see why. Black Trumpets became the second mushroom I actually ate, ending up cooked down in olive oil and in a pizza with caramelized onions…again, amazing. These mushrooms are often recommended for novice mycological foragers as there are no poisonous lookalikes.

HedgehogsBy this time the hedgehogs I had found were petering out so I set them out to hopefully spore and become one with my garden. I’ve been trying to hit the Eno regularly since the trumpet score and the other day I came upon a few patches of the spine tooth spored hedgehog. I took home a couple of pounds and cooked them down in a cream sauce that I paired with a fig and chevre ravioli. I added three boletes (either edulis or variipes) I found on a dog walk that night and the combo was nutty, sweet and earthly – so f’ing delicious.


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These three instances have marked something significant for me – the point where I came full circle with a food. I love that moment, like eating something you’ve grown, hunted or caught. However, having the confidence in the fungal roulette of mushroom identification is like a badge of awesomeness…or tastiness. To that end I encourage anyone reading this to take a look around you, there just might be something tasty by your feet. But be warned, you should be sure about what you eat – like they say, any mushroom is edible…once.

A Day at the Beach: The Man With the Compound Eyes by Wu Ming-Yi

The Man With the Compound Eyes is Wu Ming-Yi’s second novel but the first to be translated to English. Ming-Yi’s environmental penchant and educational pedigree have served up a couple of books on nature and his fictional efforts capture much of that same energy. The Man With The Compound Eyes is the story of the effect of humans on the planet and the effect of humans on each other, playing on ecological and existential elements skillfully.

The Man With the Compound Eyes

Two main stories spin a tempest that ends up capturing a handful of shorter stories that collectively tell a tale of loss, love and life. In Taiwan, Alice has lost a husband and son to a hiking accident and she’s contemplating suicide. On a fictional South Pacific island called Wayo Wayo, the second son of the island’s Sea Sage, Atile’i, follows the tradition of all second sons and is cast out to sea on a flimsy craft with only seven days worth of provisions. In between these two pivotal characters is a vortex of trash, a literal island of refuse in the sea that will bring them together, wreck their lives, homes and habitats and eventually set them free.

The second sons of Wayo Wayo are forced to leave the island in an effort to preserve the limited resources – a conservational sacrifice that rings of Ming-Yi’s activist DNA. If Atile’i is lucky he will die after a week at sea on his talawaka and turn into a sperm whale like the other second sons’ spirits. Unlucky second sons that drown and are swallowed by the sea turn into jellyfish, mindlessly lost in current and forced to drift for eternity. It’s hard to tell if it’s good or bad luck but Atile’i ends up running his talawaka ashore on the trash island. The floating flotsam is sickly and disease-riddled but somehow keeps the boy alive until it comes crashing on the shores of Taiwan.

Alice is a teacher that has lost hope of living a full life without her husband and child. On the verge of suicide in a small house by the sea she befriends a lost cat that seemingly beckons her will to live day to day. The trash vortex is all over the local news but its impact is truly realized when the island is overwhelmed with garbage and its catastrophic effect – loss of life and land. In all this mess and chaos, Alice finds a young boy stowed away on shoreline forest and eventually gains the trust of Atile’i through kind gestures and food. The two do not speak the same language but cobble together communication with body language and hand gestures and drawings in sand. Before long they are sharing each other’s language and life in stories and experiences.

Atile’i learns of Alice’s Danish husband, Thom, and their small, adventurous boy, Toto. He hears how they fell in love with the mountains and beaches of Taiwan and how their love of hiking brought them together and eventually separated them. Alice is told tales of the Wayo Wayoan sea god, Kabang, and how these islanders live in harmony with sea and land with the help of elder Sea and Mountain Sages. Together they nurse each other back to health amidst the ecological disaster that is the trash vortex until they are well enough in mind, body and spirit, to finish their lives on their own.

Wu Ming-Yi does fantastic work with weaving magical threads into a sad and real human tale. The titular character, the man with the compound eyes, is a great example of this in that he is an omnipresent being seen only by the dying. The man with compound eyes sees many happenings and many different times, all at the same time, all reflected in his ommatidium. He is the ubiquitous being that helps the dead rest, a reaper for uneasy souls that need to be reasoned with. Though it seems quite clear that this character is either a hallucination or hyperbole, the man with the compound eyes is treated as real as anything else in the book – a trash vortex, soulless jellyfish, millet wine made by a woman named for millet and an island that lives in respectful harmony with nature.

Through the ommatidia of the man, the death of all can be seen. Alice’s husband, her child, the unborn child of Atile’i and the love that took his seed on his final day on Wayo Wayo and eventually Wayo Wayo itself. Like so many stories and lives, all good things must come to and end; and when they do, the man with the compound eyes will be watching.

This book compelled me to empathize with characters, convinced me of the reality of its twist on real places and cajoled me into believing the magic described in its pages. If the translated version could do this, I can only imagine how powerful it must be when read in its original language. Whether in that language, English or even Wayo Wayoan, this is a novel worth reading.


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