The first step is admitting the problem

Hi, I’m Shane, and this is the third coffee shop I’ve visited today.

Admittedly, today is a rather unusual day, and the post title and lead-in is a cheap bit of hyperbole. Today is a day of inconveniently scheduled meetings, long drives, and a bunch of getting out of the way of a FOAF that I’m delivering the moving truck for. So this is not a normal day at all, and I rarely ever visit two coffee shops in one day – honest!

The day started with exactly not quite enough time to get anywhere between the morning dropoff and my first meeting. Hence, I decided to skip rush hour traffic, and drive just a couple of blocks to my coffee home, Peet’s in Lexington. The staff is great (Hi Janice!), there are plenty of tables, and for all the fact that they don’t offer free wifi, I really do find it a good place to focus on work without distractions. It’s also quiet enough in the back to be able to call into my meeting with good cell coverage. Since it was still early in the day, I opted for hot coffee here.

Meeting over, I then had enough time to drive home to do a couple of hours of work, which of course took longer than expected, and left me late to pickup the rental truck. Being hungry, hot, late, and in possession of one of the free sandwich coupons, I stopped at a convenient DD for my large iced, milk, half a sugar, hazelnut, and a flatbread sandwich to finish while waiting for rental truck paperwork. I must admit that I did not actually sit down at that coffee shop.

Truck delivered to the friend who’s moving, I now have a few hours to try to finish some work while they decide what to load up and what to leave behind. Of course, I have them drop me off at the closest Starbucks for another large iced, half-sweet, since now I really do need the free wifi to read my email. This time, I am sitting down.

I promise – I won’t do this again. This week I’ll pull my thermos out of the cupboard and start making iced coffee to bring with me. But today was just a little bit too much happening for that.

I hear you ask: so, how do they compare, these three highly branded corporate behemoths of the caffeine addiction trade? I’m not sure it’s completely fair to do a head-to-head, given the differing styles, but I will share this:

  • I love Peet’s. Better coffee, better bar drinks, and a good variety of pastries that I happen to like. Always my favorite, but not always immediately convenient.
  • DD is such a background to the fabric of life that it will always be important. I would never call it gourmet, but sometimes you just need a predictable cuppa, and I know I can always find a DD. Sadly, today’s iced was a tad down; I think they actually gave me too little sugar, which rarely happens (I often have to explain “just a HALF sugar, please”).
  • The primary value to Starbucks is that when you really need a bar drink, you can always find a passable one. And in today’s case, the free wifi (with air conditioning and comfortable chairs!) was the important part.

And now, back to tracking the latest round of software defects…

Backup Blogging

No, not blogging about backups, although I promise to do that real soon now. But blogging a backup of things I’ve meant to blog but never quite did.

  • What is going on with Starbucks? Not that they’re my favorite coffee company – that’d be Peet’s – but their stock prices, their coffee quality, and now the breakfast sandwiches are going to go away this coming fall! I actually like ’em quite a bit, although the cheese & etc. is never quite straight on the muffins. P.S. I’m surprised FF’s default spellchecker doesn’t know the word “Starbucks” too. Mebbe their developers just are too much the Jolt or DD drinkers, I guess.
  • Busy, busy, busy with too many different projects at work, including some that take, ahem, an inordinate amount of overhead time. Sigh.
  • Did I mention we bought a MacBook Pro? Shiny. Finally sharing iTunes/iPhoto etc. properly. Now to actually, y’know, loadup all the past pictures and then do something kewl with them. Oh, and back them up in an organized fashion.
  • The new fridge is nice. A very expensive way to temporarily fool yourself your kitchen is remodeled. Note to fridge shoppers: most of them are pretty much the same, with minor differences. Actually shop in person, and pick the one with the most convenience shelves that’s in your price range.
  • Gotta love those politicians, spending all that money to send everyone 2 separate letters telling them they might get that economic stimulus check. I was amazed – we actually got one! A real live check, too, since they seem to forget I did direct deposit last time. Just in time to potentially influence voters, too. Amazing!
  • Joyous Summer Solstice! It was such a beautiful day – and such a beautiful evening the next – that I completely forgot to logon to commemorate in a timely manner. I only hope the sun will forgive me for that.
  • Looking forward to seeing a number of friends this weekend, and had the first summer dinner last weekend with other friends, which was quite delightful. I love summer air – it feels softer, somehow.

We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

A Belmont Coffee Disaster, Entirely Frustrating

Gratuitous Hyperbole Is Just Kinda Like Metaphorically Nebulous Oratory… and then I lose it. Most of you may agree I lost it a little earlier in the alphabet.

One early morning commute recently I stopped in Belmont center to pickup breakfast on the go: venti latte, and next door a bagel with schmear, excuse me, cream cheese (it was Bruggers, not Einstein). Several items in the shopping trip and afterwards caught my attention.

First, it was crowded – which shouldn’t surprise me, it’s morning commute time. But that gave me time to realize that I didn’t quite belong in that particular Starbucks: I was clearly on the wrong side of the highway. With my half-open and scuffed sandals, shorts, and an interesting yet obviously not stylish enough Hawaiian shirt, it was clear my dress code didn’t match up to Belmontian standards. I was glad to realize that the suburban beautiful people – while far more stylish and scented than I – still had to wait in line for their triple venti soy misto extra hot drinks just like I did.

Brueggers was less crowded and less stylish overall, patrons and store alike. They do feature salmon cream cheese, and chewily tasty if not excellent bagels. I was rushed making a decision, and opted for salmon on a pumpernickel bagel, wanting a savory breakfast. The plain (sliced) rosemary olive oil bagel I got for an afternoon snack was better, and is a rare treat in their bagel line up.

Sadly enough, breakfast was not destined to go well. While the pumpernickel was reasonably satisfying, it completely does not go with salmon cream cheese -even when the cream cheese shcmear is disappointingly small, as it was on that day. It was also rather difficult to eat, doing the splooge thing as chewier bagels are wont to do.

More importantly, before I got to work for breakfast, I spilled my coffee! I’d had part of it on the commute, but somehow – and I really don’t have any idea how, since I’ve never done that before – it popped out of the center cupholder and spilled on one floormat in the back of the car. Thankfully the top stayed on, and it was completely caught on the floormat. It was a doubly disappointing disaster, both in botched breakfast, and in cleanliness: I’d just had my car detailed in preparation for selling it.

Did I mention I’m selling my BMW, and looking for a new E36? Yes, it is clean and very shiny, and no, the floor mat (rear on the left) does not smell like coffee anymore.