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Daddy Carbucks

   [The latest Rough Draft column.]

   People always say to me, "How can I make the perfect cup of coffee?" And I have to break the bad news: One does not make the perfect cup. One tries to become the kind of person who is worthy of attendance at the elaborate ritual known as the perfect cup of coffee. This isn't amateur hour. Frankly, some people may never have a knack for it. Try juice, is my advice. Stick to the safe fluids.

   But I'll share a few hints. First off, the perfect cup of coffee is not a substance but an event, one that usually happens first thing in the morning. Cups later in the day are often tarnished by distractions. The serious coffee drinker anticipates the first cup of the morning with something very much like lust. As you're making the coffee, you find yourself whispering, "Baby, you're so hot."

   Obviously, the perfect cup of coffee begins with exquisite coffee beans. You mustn't buy pre-ground coffee, any more than you would buy food that has already been chewed. Remember when buying beans to specify not only the country of origin and the type of roast, but also the socioeconomic condition of the coffee workers. I always buy French Roast Papua New Guinea Fair Trade Socialist Collective, though I'm still trying to find it in decaf.

    Some people buy green coffee beans and roast them at home, but if you're really serious, you should grow your own plants. It can add some time to the process, however, and my children hate it when I wake them at 3 in the morning to start the harvest.

    Once you have the whole beans, you must "grind" them, a word whose brutality gives me shivers. We love the bean and want to treat it humanely. Its molecular genius, however, can be liberated only if the bean is disintegrated. Blade grinders burn the coffee; for just a few thousand dollars you can buy special coffee grinders that lovingly break the beans into tiny pieces. I like to smash the beans with a hammer. When my neighbors hear loud hammering before dawn, they know another great cuppa joe is on the way.

   You can't use tap water to make coffee (that's hardly better than using gasoline or meat drippings). The water must be filtered or bottled, or, ideally, manufactured by chemists in the form of H3O (the extra hydrogen atom gives the coffee a pleasant nutty taste).

   Next comes the apparatus by which the coffee is prepared. I am not a big fan of "Mr. Coffee," for reasons of gender discrimination. And I loathe any coffee maker that is too much of a contraption; it shouldn't look as though it doubles as a device for detecting radon in your basement. All you really need is a technique for allowing water that's nearly boiling to consort with fresh grinds. Many purists make "cowboy coffee," in which they add the grinds to a pan of hot water, swirl it around for a minute, and start drinking and eating the resulting mixture. Another term for cowboy coffee is "chewy coffee."

   I have gone a step further and experimented with a technique in which I place dry grounds in my mouth -- really pack it in there, the way a barista loads an espresso filter basket -- and then slowly sip scalding water. It's dangerous and messy, but if you were able to speak you'd say, "That is coffee."

   Let us stipulate that, by hook or crook, you find some method of producing a cup of coffee that meets your specifications for excellence. But wait: It's still not the perfect cup. You need to work on location. In the right place, even the sludge from the hot plate at Exxon can be sublime. Great coffee is 1/10 chemistry, 9/10 environment.

   I often go to Carbucks. The great thing about Carbucks is that, in addition to the fact that you're the sole proprietor and barista, a new location opens up anywhere you decide to park.

   After making my coffee one recent Sunday morning, I drove to a small park that overlooks the Potomac River and decided that it was an excellent Carbucks. I brought a fine novel. The first rays of sun struck the bare trees on the bluff across the river. I drank the coffee. Spectacular!

   As the caffeine worked its way through my veins, the philosophy neurons woke up. The notion arose that the river emerges from deep time, that it is older than human civilization, that everything we have ever accomplished is but a brief conceit. That we're just little people, living on a tiny planet in an eye blink of time. How intimidating! How scary! How could we possibly claim any significance in such a vast cosmos?

   Well, you start with the perfect cup of coffee. 

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 28, 2006; 2:51 PM ET
 
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Comments

You're encouraging those of us in Florida who want to grow our own coffee. Someone's actually attempting a commercial plantation, according to the Miami Herald, which wouldn't make it up.

It's easier and to take the top off one of those Dole pineapples from Costa Rica and plant it in the yard. Homegrown is so much tastier.

Posted by: Dave | January 28, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I consume only genetically modified beans grown on a remote island near Venezuela. I use a French press, which makes what is essentially "cowboy coffee" with the chewier bits removed. I pour the brew into a large ceramic container originally intended for Vietnamese soup. I embrace the vessel for a few minutes and allow the caffeine to leach directly into my fingertips. Eventually the foreplay ends, and I take a deep sip. My systolic pressure spikes. My forehead tightens. I am close to God. Then, and only then, am I safe to approach.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 28, 2006 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm. Dave. Miami. Not Making Things Up. Perhaps this blog does need higher standards.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 28, 2006 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I jest not in the least:

An acquaintance of mine (I hesitate to use the term "friend", because he's a Hunter S. Thompson-style, brook-no-nonsense and take-no-prisoners kinda guy) holds precisely four things sacred. Late-night alcohol consumption, early-morning coffee consumption, honestly earning enough money somehow to pay for the first two items, and (above all) telling (painfully, searingly) funny stories about the processes involved in the first three items.

This approach to life hasn't been especially kind to him or those close to him, but I'm glad to have had him in my life. Here's to ya, John!*@#!

Posted by: Bob S. | January 28, 2006 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Since Joel mentioned "cowboy coffee'...

The fine citizens of San Antone were eatin' fire and spittin' smoke on Thurday after the Express-News printed on the front page that there would be no gravy on Friday morning at the 28th annual Cowboy Breakfast. The gobble-down of breakfast tacos, eggs, brisket, sausage wraps, and biscuits kicks off the Stock Show and Rodeo every year.

The reason for the withdrawal--that gravy's messy and people could slip and fall, and that's it's difficult to eat biscuits with one hand while standin' up and holding cowboy coffee in the other. The 60,000 who attend the event got worked up into a firestorm, madder than fogged fire ants. They were mad enough to put something on the festival organizers that Ajax won' take off.

Not that those who attend the breakfast are real goat ropers or Wranglerettes. Actually, most folks'd get throwed by a good rocking chair and couldn't even ride a good charley horse. In fact the breakfast occurs before the sun has rise, and some people's hair is so messy it looks like they combed it with a skillet. Some of them pretend buckaroo's Stetsons are bigger than portable feed bags, too.

But after 20 years they'd be hurtin' for gravy if it was to be taken away. They picked up their phones and cussed a lot, in fact, they were clamorin' so hard for the white peppered gravy they ran a string of profanity so hot it woulda fried bacon.

Ater a stampede of complaints, the organizers changed their minds faster than s six-legged jackrabbit can run. They rounded up gravy boats and more barrels (for trash) than'll hold the oil in Saudi 'Rabia.

There was a big front-page piece in the paper today that gravy had circled back onto the menu, running with the headline, "Good Gravy!" It jus' goes to show that when it comes to good eatin' it's hard to buck old habits.

Of course, the op-ed page today laughed hearty like a double-jawed hyena at the lobbyin' effort. The ink slinger wished that San Antone folks would lock horns with and give government officials the same kind of woodshed lecture when it comes to things like unemployment and school finance and Child Protective Services and...

Posted by: Loomis | January 28, 2006 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh, how I loves me coffee. It's not an easy mistress, though, as the midafternoon headaches I get when I miss a cuppa will prove...

Posted by: Spunkmeyer | January 28, 2006 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Loomie - I hardly qualify as a local, and Del Rio ain't exactly a close suburb of San Antonio, but even I went to enough Cowboy Breakfast events in the mid-90's to understand why that was unacceptable to the point of lunacy!

Posted by: Bob S. | January 28, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I just stepped out onto the back deck (well, there's only one, and it's located to the rear of the house) to have a smoke, and noticed a diaphanous cloud hovering over my neighbor's holly bush. At first, I thought that it was God trying to save me from my apostate ways, but it turns out to be... tiny flying critters. Gnats? A new crop of mosquitos? Whatever, it's obviously been a pretty mild winter here in the vicinity of the nation's capital.

Posted by: Bob S. | January 28, 2006 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Somehow, I wouldn't have felt right without posting SOMETHING in response to the comment/sales pitch post in Ron Nessen's "Think Tank Town" blog.

http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/thinktanktown/2006/01/for_once_a_nonc.html#c13416053

Posted by: Bob S. | January 28, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Reader and Bob S

Not offended one bit, just the joke threw me terribly, and I responded the way I usually do, all heart and no brain. I speak my mind here, so should everyone else, and I try very hard not offend. If I do, I will certainly apologize.


Loomis, I'm still laughing at that story.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 28, 2006 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Veering way off topic here - but I saw this:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/27/AR2006012701882.html

Nani (and any other horse lovers lurking out there), the last time I went to the movies I saw previews of these horsey Animal Planet shows, and I've been meaning to tell you. Hope you have cable TV. I used to delete Animal Planet from my cable lineup so that I wouldn't have to surf past "snake TV" - but apparently it's changing...

Now back to your regularly scheduled boodle, brought to you by Carbucks...

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 28, 2006 10:11 PM | Report abuse

I'll be having the perfect cup of coffee tomorrow AM; lying naked in bed reading the Sunday WaPost, natch.

I do not condone eating or drinking in any vehicle. And ferdamnssure don't try it in my car, bub.

Reading the Sunday WaPo on the front porch swing at sunrise with a view of Sugarloaf Mt., cuppa joe sitting on the armrest's nice too. Naked, natch - ha!

bc

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2006 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Might want to read this with your morning coffee:

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him

By ANDREW C. REVKIN
Published: January 29, 2006

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/science/earth/29climate.html?

Posted by: Loomis | January 28, 2006 11:20 PM | Report abuse

I've come across this while in the midst of drinking carbonated malt beverages of an adult variety, so I have no thoughts to share at this time.

Posted by: Bayou Self | January 28, 2006 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Linda for the link to the article about speaking out about global warming. That really gives one pause. Let's hope Dr. Hansen keeps speaking out.

I am looking forward to my cup of coffee in the morning. Perhaps I can find some beans that won't precipitate more global warming.

Loved the story about the gravy at the Cowboy Breakfast, LL. Around here, biscuits and gravy is a favorite Sunday breakfast and people search for the best resturant providing it.

My mother used to make coffee in a pot on the stove with a bit of raw egg and sometimes shell, grounds, and water all "boiled" together. It's still made that way at a "shore lunch" when fishing. It pours out clear after the grounds settle when boiling is finished.

bdl

Posted by: boondocklurker | January 29, 2006 12:03 AM | Report abuse

bc. I think that is what is known as a little too much information....

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 29, 2006 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Newly named ABC News World News Tonight anchorman Bob Woodruff at this hour still in serious condition and still in surgery at an Iraqi air base (Bagram?).

(You'd think the abcnews.com website would have the decency to drop the Wal-Mart and Nexium ads that run on their two web pages that report/tell the story.)

Jan. 29, 2006-- A statement from ABC New President David Westin: "Bob Woodruff and his cameraman Doug Vogt were injured in an IED attack near Taji, Iraq today. They were embedded with the 4th Infantry Division, traveling with an Iraqi Army unit in an Iraqi mechanized vehicle. Bob and Doug are in serious condition and are being treated at a U.S. military hospital in Iraq. ABC News will provide updates on their condition as they become available."

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=1553921

He wants the anchors [Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas] constantly deployed in the field, which would play to their strengths as young and attractive interviewers rather than outsize personalities.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/28/AR2006012801187.html

Posted by: Loomis | January 29, 2006 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I had to drink three cups of Joe just to get through this rant.

Man...This Blog Stinks. But, wide awake and with a full jolt of caffeine it REALLY STINKS!

Posted by: The Lonemule | January 29, 2006 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Lol, I was wondering how many posts it would take for someone to go off on Bush. I love people's inability to stay on topic based on their Bush-hatred, it truly would make a funny SNL stand-up.

Anyway, the best cup of coffee I ever had was oddly enough in Charleston, SC. I think it was grown locally, but I'm not sure. I'm traveling to Costa Rica next week on vacation so I'm hoping to get some good coffee and bannanas as well :).

Posted by: Bryan | January 29, 2006 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Totally off today's topic, but I'll tie it into recent discussions:

I decided to take my own advice and read The Ruins of California together with The Glass Castle.

Well. My local bookstore, Waldenbooks, informed me that their franchise is not stocking The Ruins and has no plans to do so. So I'll have to order it from Amazon (easy enough). They had The Glass Castle, though, and I have to tell you all, fellow kaboodlers, and Joel, too: this is a book that is worth the time it takes to read it. First of all, it's a fast read: I bought it yesterday and finished it this morning. And second, it's an amazing portrait of a unique family. Jeannette Walls manages to strike an unbelievably precarious balance between brutal truth and sentiment--she's not afraid to tell the truth about the squalor of her upbringing and she's also not ashamed to admit her attachment to her parents. She doesn't cover for them but she also doesn't whine about what they did to her and her siblings. It's quite a tightrope act. I don't want to give examples because she tells every story so much better than I could. I would just strongly recommend The Glass Castle to anyone who is interested in the issues of bohemian parenting that we were talking about. It's also a good book to use to frame the discussion of A Million Little Pieces, the difference between fiction and biography and memoir. Since a lot of what happens in the book took place when Walls was very young (she claims to remember her life at age 3) I have to assume that a lot of the details are not precisely accurate. But if she made it all up, then she should get a prize for fiction writing. I cannot believe anyone has the imagination to create that family from scratch. In tone, the book strongly resembles Angela's Ashes, but the story is less conventional. Walls is a good writer with an amazing story to tell.

Posted by: Reader | January 29, 2006 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Mmmmm. Coffee.

Posted by: Bayou Self | January 29, 2006 11:31 AM | Report abuse

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594200807/sr=1-1/qid=1138552569/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-1916686-4783063?%5Fencoding=UTF8

Posted by: Amazon link to The Ruins of California | January 29, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Woodruff in undergoing surgery in Balad, not Bagram. ABC News reports that Woodruff and his Canadian cameraman Vogt were wearing body armor, helmets and ballistic glasses.

The San Antonio has a new public editor/ombudsman, Bob Richter, with whom I spoke just days ago. Richter, a former reporter/editor, has been on the job but one month, and today's column is just his fourth writing effort since he's been in his new post.

Richter's article doesn't mention Woodward but is quite prescient, since its title is "Some reporters are putting their lives on the line to get the news." The piece deals primarliy with reporters covering the dangerous and violent drug trade on the U.S. (Texas)-Mexico border, but also mentions a local reporter who's embedded (hate that word) with troops in the Iraq conflict (which raises all sorts of issues about objectivity/subjectivity and little picture/big picture).

Since the issue is so topical this morning with the news of the ABC News team's injuries and medical treatment, I'm providing the link to Richter's column today:

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/columnists/brichter/stories/MYSA012906.03B.richtercol.2f1488b.html

Posted by: Loomis | January 29, 2006 11:46 AM | Report abuse

SCC: The San Antonio
The San Antonio Express-News

SCC: who's embedded
who was embedded with U.S. forces at one time since the start of the Iraq war (don't know exact timeframe)

Posted by: Loomis | January 29, 2006 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Coffee is not my cup of tea, but the best B&G (biscuits and gravy) I ever had were at a little place called Annie's Cafe in Cedar Key, Florida -those are the keys between Tallahassee and Tampa on the other west coast. On the road, the fff (fast food franchise) Hardee's has a pedestrian version of this pedestrian, but wonderful, food.

Posted by: Shiloh | January 29, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm beginning to get a little concerned for Loomis and bc.

I think LindaLoo might have overstayed her time in San Antone--she's starting to drop her "g" endings, and using figures of speech like "couldn't ride a charleyhorse" and "madder than fogged fire ants." A California girl's mind is such a terrible thing to waste. So sad.

(Enjoyed the story, though.)

As for bc, I'm having difficulty imagaining him on his porch reading the WaPo and looking at Sugarloaf Mountain, in the nude, since it was about 35 degrees this morning. bc never struck me as a ... er...shrinking violet...before this. Muy macho (as LindaLoo might say, down there on the Pedernales)!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 29, 2006 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon:

I thought of you yesterday because I picked up some magazine (Newsweek?) in a waiting room that had a profile of Dick Cheney--they said he is known in some circles as the "Curmudgeon in Chief." Ha!

Posted by: Reader | January 29, 2006 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Gack! Now I have to give some thought to changing my handle. Wonder if I can sue? Probably not. Dang!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 29, 2006 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry 'bout me, 'mudge, I'm cool enough to equalize any temperature (ok, that's a bad old joke).

Once the sun came up, temps went into to the 50s F., easily tolerable with a hot mug 'o coffee laced with Amaretto. I wish the neighbors would stop staring, though.

Those men and women on the front lines - soldiers, reporters, and civillians - are some brave folks.

bc

Posted by: bc | January 29, 2006 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Reader, I hadn't heard of Jeannette Walls till the other night when Larry King had her on to discuss James Frey (the evening of Oprah's turnabout). She was very upset that people would now question whether all memoirs were fiction. She also said that she didn't think she could write fiction...

Carol Radziwill was on the show too. I read her memoir, What Remains, and liked it a lot. It's written in a interesting, non-linear style, and is very honest and revealing - and I cried through the last pages. Seems like I'm easily brought to tears, but I'm not, usually. On Larry King, she made the point of distinguishing "truth" which is subjective, with "facts" which are objective. she's working on a novel now, and says it is much harder than non-fiction.

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 29, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse

The 'fictive memoir' I remember best is "Manchild in the Promised Land" by Claude Brown. Reading that in high school was a stunning revelation into the life in Harlem. I know he changed names, but I don't recall how much he fudged specific facts. Regardless, the overwhelming force of the story he told could only make one marvel that anyone could survive the situation. And he was not only able to survive but go on to succeed in life and in telling his tale.

Posted by: pj | January 29, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

SCC - Carole
"an interesting"
"She's"
Sheesh...I did have coffee, but it was instant...

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 29, 2006 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I was looking at ABC news one night, and Woodruff was talking about a shop that sold ice cream. He was eating ice cream, and I thought, what if something happens to him because this is such a dangerous place, but I put it out of my mind. Never thought about it again until I read the story in the Post a few minutes ago. How anyone can think we're winning in this place is beyond me.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 29, 2006 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Seven years in the Army, most of it doing the kinds of "0-dark-thirty" things that demand coffee, yet I to this day cannot stand black coffee.

Or coffee with only two sugars.

Or coffee with only cream.

I always take my coffee in the largest mugs I can find -- easier to get the coffee as close to hot chocolate as possible.


Several months of my seven years were spent escorting the likes of Mr. Woodward in Iraq and Saudia Arabia during the first Gulf War. My thoughts and best wishes are with him and his cameraman.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 29, 2006 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Just three days ago, bad news locally for San Antonio from near Taji, the same area in Iraq (roughly 12 miles north of Baghdad) where ABC News co-anchor Woodruff and cameraman Vogt were seriously injured early today...

Iraq blast killed noncom from San Antonio

Web Posted: 01/25/2006 12:00 AM CST
Sig Christenson
Express-News Military Writer

Brian McElroy stayed under the radar, whether as a Churchill High School senior a decade ago or an Air Force noncommissioned officer known for his quick mind and wit.

But that habitual low profile wasn't enough this week. Insurgents detonated a roadside bomb near Taji, a hotbed of the guerrilla war in Iraq, killing McElroy and Tech. Sgt. Jason L. Norton, 32, of Miami, Okla.

"The mood is hot and cold," said Chief Master Sgt. William Watson, senior enlisted manager of the 3rd Security Forces Squadron at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska, where the men were stationed. He said he goes from "moments of focused lucidity" to emotional turmoil, adding, "When I first I heard, I went to my knees. It hurt. And it's all varying emotions in between."

A staff sergeant, McElroy, 28, of San Antonio and Norton had been in Iraq about three months. Their deaths Sunday made them the 10th and 11th airmen to die in Iraq since the invasion, and among four to perish since the Air Force began providing troops for convoy escort duty 11/2 years ago.

Three have come from the Alaska base. Airman 1st Class Carl L. Anderson Jr., 21, of Georgetown, S.C., was killed Aug. 29, 2004, near Mosul.

Staff Sgt. Brian McElroy is the 12th San Antonian to be killed in Iraq. At least 193 Texans have died in Iraq since the war began, the Associated Press reported.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA012506.01A.airman_killed.12d186c2.html

Posted by: Loomis | January 29, 2006 8:32 PM | Report abuse

The Woodruff story is certainly being carefully controlled by ABC News...

"I spoke with both of them," [said Kate] Felsen [who had been working with Woodruff for the past two weeks] continued. "Doug was conscious, and I was able to reassure him we were getting them care. I spoke to Bob also and walked with them to the helicopter."

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/IraqCoverage/story?id=1553996&page=1

Did Felsen speak with them or *to* them? If Vogt was conscious, does that mean that Woodruff was unconscious? Why did it take a number of hours before ABC released the news that Woodruff had also received wounds to his upper torso? [I do understand the issue of pending notification of family and possibly flying Lee Woodruff to Bob's bedside in Landstuhl, Germany, plus stablizing the patient.] Walked with them to the helicopter...I assume this means that Felsen accompanied both of her injured co-workers to the helicopter and that both men were either on guerneys or stretchers?

Givn this story about the injuries sustained in Iraq to a major network (co-)anchor and the intense spotlight it will focus on the Iraq conflict, it will be interesting to see if President Bush mentions Iraq in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, what he'll say, what he'll say that's meaningful, and how long he'll stay on the topic of the Iraq war.

Subject to even wider speculation, I would think, is whether Bush will mention Osama bin Laden in his televised address Tuesday night--or not.

Posted by: Loomis | January 29, 2006 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps without realizing it, Sig Christenson's feature story--about how the federal government is not picking up the tab for a rehabilitation center for U.S. soldiers who have suffered the most serious injuries in Iraq and Afhanistan--asks more questions than it answers.

This local story that ran front-page in today's San Antonio Express-News is truly a national one. The reporting by this military writer who was at one time embedded with U.S. forces in Iraq is full of facts. But as I mentioned, the writer's full report raises many difficult questions.

Private Rx for rehab

Web Posted: 01/28/2006 11:45 PM CST
Sig Christenson
Express-News Military Writer

A rehabilitation center for amputees and other wounded soldiers that's rising near Brooke Army Medical Center comes with a virtual-reality roller coaster, a $37 million price tag and a question: Why isn't the federal government paying for any of it?

Instead, the four-story building is being paid for entirely by private donations, prompting some to ask why the government isn't meeting its obligations to those wounded in the war in Iraq -- a war that has returned home amputees at twice the rate of Vietnam.

When it opens at Fort Sam Houston in a year, the Center for the Intrepid will provide what may be the best rehabilitative care medicine can offer to troops who have lost limbs or suffered severe burns, blindness and head injuries on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Supporters see the project led by millionaire New York real estate developer Arnold Fisher as a way to give back to the troops. They say it will be an architectural and medical gem in Fort Sam's crown, equal to the world's finest rehab centers.

But retired combat commanders, veterans and even some Intrepid center donors ask why Washington has left the center's construction to a private charity.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/military/stories/MYSA012906.01A.amputee_center.34d00d9.html

Posted by: Loomis | January 30, 2006 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Is it possible (one asks oneself) that both laudably generous AND venally selfish impulses are in play here?

Call me a stupid, old-school M..F.. here, if you must, but I've noticed that whenever a really impressive pile of money is tossed on the table, the motivations tend to be quantitatively and qualitatively mixed. Simple answers to things are beautiful when available, but sometimes they just ain't! (Available, I mean.)

Posted by: Bob S. | January 30, 2006 2:01 AM | Report abuse

I recommend the degrees of charity penned by Moses Maimonides as a gauge of generosity and venality. But perhaps the most sage advice is "never look a gift horse in the mouth."

Posted by: Shiloh | January 30, 2006 5:49 AM | Report abuse

My then teenage son, Joey ("Mom, I'm in my 40s, it's JOE now) made the most perfect cup of coffee ever. Just Folgers, percolated in the old silver tin coffee pot with the clear glass thingamajig on top until the aroma and color was just so, then mixed in the Pet evaporated milk turning it a lovely shade of gold. Pleasing to the eye **and** the palate.

mostlylurking, I saw a political cartoon on the internet Sunday, Bush being bucked off his horse. Poetic justice!

Posted by: Nani | January 30, 2006 8:21 AM | Report abuse

About to get a cup of coffee, but decided to check into the Achenblog, first.... but this???? Now I have to go get my coffee!!!!

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | January 30, 2006 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Can one grow coffee beans indoors, in the back of a closet with a blacklight? 'Cos I live in an apartments and don't have any place to grow them...

Posted by: amo | January 30, 2006 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Can one grow coffee beans indoors, in the back of a closet with a blacklight? 'Cos I live in an apartment and don't have any place to grow them...

Posted by: amo | January 30, 2006 9:39 AM | Report abuse

The perfect cup of coffee comes from WaWa, in a 20 oz. cup, with 1 inch of Half-and-half (poured in first) and two Splendas. If it must be consumed immediately, one made add one (but only one) ice cube from the drink stand. (Alas, due to doctor's orders, it must be decaf, but certain persons have been known to cheat, and do a 50-50 mix. I won't mention any names.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 30, 2006 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Ooops. Forgot to mention: the cup must be paper/cardboard, none of that plasticy foam crap.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 30, 2006 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Ahh, coffee. The very first cup of coffee I ever had was when catering in a small town hotel restaurant I worked in with along with my mom and several other ladies. I could not get to the soda machine, and coffee was all that was available. So my first cup was strong, and black. Still is. Early morning sunlight, coffee and a good book is the recipe for a perfect day.

Posted by: dr | January 30, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Only an inch of half-n-half? Yer a better man than I, Gunga 'Mudge...

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 30, 2006 10:19 AM | Report abuse

What size the coffee pots?

And even before last week's gravy hullabaloo, San Antonio's Cowboy Breakfast, served for free, had its own difficulties in becoming the world's largest cooked breakfast.

But what began as a small send-off for trail riders a week before the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo grew into a huge event, with live music, revelry and cow chip-tossing. ...

In the late 1990s, organizers set their sights on the Guinness Book of World Records, hoping to set a mark for the largest breakfast. They had to devise a way to count servings in one hour and document the record.

At the time, the record for the largest free breakfast was set in 1998, when the Kellogg company served cereal and milk to 13,797 people in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. ... [How did this come about...in Dubai?]

Other breakfasts have claimed to be the largest, unofficially.

Springfield, Mass., has its "World's Largest Pancake Breakfast," at which some 40,000 people wolfed down more than 71,000 pancakes in 1999.

And many of the 400,000 people who gathered in 1969 in Bethel, N.Y., for the rock and folk music festival known as Woodstock are said to have eaten a modest breakfast of cooked oats or wheat, mixed with peanuts.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA012906.02B.Then_Now.2c80a4c.html

Posted by: Loomis | January 30, 2006 10:22 AM | Report abuse

"Gunga 'Mudge"... gotta love that!

So... are we 'boodlers still on for tomorrow night's BPH?

Posted by: TBG | January 30, 2006 10:22 AM | Report abuse

OOPS! Next week! I must be time traveling with RD Padouk.

Anyway.. still on for NEXT WEEK?

Posted by: TBG | January 30, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Of course, you haven't lived until you've tossed a cow chip while drinking your morning coffee

*snicker, snicker*

Posted by: Loomis | January 30, 2006 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Before you can drink the perfect cup of coffee, you must gag down many cups of garbage.
Then you will achieve a symbiosis with caffeine and gut-altering compounds to truly crave coffee.
Only then will your tastebuds be dead enough to think any coffee is good, and your mind in a state of mind to appreciate the fact of coffee.

That's my tea-drinking perspective, anyhoo. Just keep those 'flavored coffees' from wafting up my nose, they give me migraines.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 30, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Nani - I'm with ya! That was my first cup of coffee. Camping with my parents. A metal percolater steeping on a Coleman stove. A little sugar and condensed milk. I was instantly hooked.

Many years later, I switched to black coffee as a mechanism for breaking the coffee and cigarettes component of my smoking habit. But I still miss my camping coffee.

Posted by: CowTown | January 30, 2006 10:43 AM | Report abuse

TBG -I'm planning on it.

bc

Posted by: bc | January 30, 2006 11:21 AM | Report abuse

H30 is acid, it would not taste nutty.

Posted by: amchemist | January 30, 2006 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Were Woodruff and Vogt wearing Pinnacle Dragon Skin armour or standard military issue armour? Do news organizations provide their anchors/correspondents/reporters special gear?

http://www.defensereview.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=490


I also had the opportunity to view and handle the remains of military rounds (including AP rounds) that had been fired into Pinnacle Armor Inc.'s SOV-1000 and SOV-2000 Level III and Level IV "Dragon Skin" vests, and was just blown away. The Pinnacle Armor vests reduced these rounds to shrapnel. I've never seen anything like it. When you see tungsten and tungsten carbide-core rounds obliterated like these rounds were, you just have to shake your head and laugh.

Only it's not funny. It's actually incredibly important, because these Pinnacle Armor Inc. vests can really save lives. I sincerely hope that all of our troops engaged in urban warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq end up acquiring Pinnacle Armor Inc. SOV/Dragon Skin vests. They need them--right now. Unfortunately, the reality is that most of them probably will never get them. Pinnacle Armor Inc. body armor costs more money than the old tech, and when it comes to equipping our infantry soldiers and Marines, money is always an issue. It's also unfortunate that on the law enforcement front, most state and local police department and sheriff's departments have never even heard of Pinnacle Armor Inc. body armor, so their SWAT/SRT teams are still running around with old tech (i.e. standard NIJ Level IIIa hard armor, or possibly Level IV hard armor ballistic ceramic panel inserts, which are thick, heavy, and brittle) made by a number of big-name body armor/ballistic vest manufacturers. This is unfortunate.

Posted by: Loomis | January 30, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

You may blog o' sin and methane
When you're boodling safe out 'here,
An' your kits are out of control,
But if it comes to slaughter
You'll type your blogs like yer ought'er
An' you'll miss the cowboy's gravy what's not in the bowl.

Now in D.C.'s sunny clime,
Where I now spend all my time,
A-servin' of a governmental agency
Of all them pencil-neck-ed geeks
And pencil-pushin' freaks
Was a lowly copy editor, Gunga 'Mudge.

It was "Mudge! Mudge! Mudge!"
You're reading Kurtz and Drudge
Instead of givin' verbs a nudge,
An' writin' poems, you old Gunga Mudge.

'E would dot each lowly i,
To make the time go by,
An' 'e didn't seem to know the use 'o adjectives.
If we wrote a reg'alation impenetrable and dense,
'E'd be scrathin' out our verbiage with a grin.
An' fix our syntax with his ball-point pen.

It was "Mudge! Mudge! Mudge!"
With the memos kickin' dust-spots on the floor.
When the ink cartridges ran out,
You could hear the IT people shout,
"Hey! Get another Canon 92A laser cartridge, won't cha, Gunga Mudge!"

I sha'n't forget the night
When my writin' wasn't tight,
An' I had a bullet where a check mark shoulda been.
I was chokin' mad with thirst,
An' the man who fixed it first
Was our good old whining, carping Gunga Mudge.

'E boldfaced up my 'ead,
An' 'e paragraphed me 'lede,
An' he guv me 'arf-a-pint o' java from the Mr. Coffee pot.
It was cold and had no creamer,
Looked like it was drained from the radiator of Joel's Beemer,
The perfect cup of coffee, brought by lowly Gunga Mudge.

It was "Mudge! Mudge! Mudge!
'Ere's a memo with no bullets in its text;
Ain't got no pull-out quotes, and no punchy anecdotes,
For Gawd's sake, git the thesaurus, Gunga Mudge!"

'E edited away
Until the break of day,
Put a bullet front of every pithy point.
Then made a pot of brew
Coffee thick as hunter's stew:
"I 'ope you likes your Carbucks," sez Gunga Mudge.

So I'll meet him later today
At the WaWa in Mandalay,
Where it's always decaf, might as well be drinkin' sludge;
'E'll be editin' 'is reports,
An' posting clever retorts,
Another day in Hell for Gunga Mudge.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 30, 2006 11:51 AM | Report abuse

*ROFLMAO*

I'll be dammed if 'Mudge didn't count the seams on that hanging curve and deposit one a few rows past that famous white seat in RFK.

*tip o' every hat I can find*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 30, 2006 12:02 PM | Report abuse

The LoneMule will say this "STINKS", but I gotta post this old Ink Spots tune: (hit it, boys!)

Java Jive - The Ink Spots

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jivin' and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!

I love java, sweet and hot
Whoops! Mr. Moto, I'm a coffee pot
Shoot me the pot and I'll pour me a shot
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!

Oh, slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
And I cut a rug till I'm snug in a jug
A slice of onion and a raw one, draw one.
Waiter, waiter, percolator!

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jivin' and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!

Boston bean, soy bean
Lima bean, string bean.
You know that I'm not keen for a bean
Unless it is a cheery coffee bean.

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jivin' and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!

YEEAAHHHHH................

Posted by: Nani | January 30, 2006 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Is it safe?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 30, 2006 12:43 PM | Report abuse

This just in. A couple of doohickeys are on the fritz.

Time for a coffee break.

Posted by: Bayou Self | January 30, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Any half-caf pumpkin spice latte back there?

;)

Posted by: amo | January 30, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, your Laurence Olivier impression? Nicely done!

Posted by: Nani | January 30, 2006 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Nani, that reminds me of the "All Night Strut," a musical revue of the 1930s/40s. I saw it countless times when it was at the Strand Theatre in Pontiac, MI (my brother did sound there at the time) and then once at the Gem Theatre in Detroit (just before the theatre was relocated in 1997 - the heaviest building ever moved!). If you haven't heard it, it's great. I bought the CD at one of the shows, but it's available through Amazon too, I was surprised to find. My 7 year old loves it. She knew all the words to "Minnie the Moocher" when she was 5. She obviously had a different understanding of what "kick the gong around" meant. Anyway, it has a fun version of "Java Jive" on it.

Posted by: ABJunkie | January 30, 2006 12:59 PM | Report abuse

ABJunkie, my g-girls love the old songs too. Hard Hearted Hannah, One of These Days, A Good Man is Hard to Find. They especially enjoy my Andrews Sisters CDs (with me lip synchin' and truckin'). Hold tight! Hold tight! HoldtightHoldtight, taperrrrrreeeackysacky, want some seafood mama!

Posted by: Nani | January 30, 2006 1:17 PM | Report abuse

The LoneMule will say this "STINKS", but I gotta post this old Ink Spots tune: (hit it, boys!)
Java Jive - The Ink Spots
I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jivin' and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!
I love java, sweet and hot
Whoops! Mr. Moto, I'm a coffee pot
Shoot me the pot and I'll pour me a shot
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!
Oh, slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
And I cut a rug till I'm snug in a jug
A slice of onion and a raw one, draw one.
Waiter, waiter, percolator!
I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jivin' and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!
Boston bean, soy bean
Lima bean, string bean.
You know that I'm not keen for a bean
Unless it is a cheery coffee bean.
I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jivin' and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!
YEEAAHHHHH................
Posted by: Nani | Jan 30, 2006 12:13:41 PM

You're right....I did STINK!

Posted by: The Lonemule | January 30, 2006 7:52 PM | Report abuse

I first heard "Cowboy Coffee" on Spirit's Feedback-Mellow Morning. So I always assumed the substance contained alcohol or dope

Posted by: logged-on | February 25, 2006 6:41 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: insurance auto | June 27, 2006 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know what the raw slice of onion is for in referrence to the above song Java Jive?

Posted by: Mitchell | September 9, 2006 5:11 PM | Report abuse

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