Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Attack of the machines
First the laptop goes, then the coffeemaker. It’s not as bad as (almost) losing two chapters when you’re writing a book, but it’s not trivial, either-- not if you’re one of those addicts who simply cannot function without caffeine in the morning, and by “cannot function” I mean “cannot dress oneself or speak coherently or type intelligibly.” And I wouldn’t bother blogging about such a thing if not for the fact that the coffeemaker in question-- one of those nice steel carafe things that keeps your coffee warm without having it sit and stew on a hot plate-- succumbed, like the laptop, to a Mysterious Malfunction while insisting that it was actually in working order. (The laptop is still in denial about the loss of its USB ports; the coffeemaker continues to tell time and to insist that it will make the next pot of coffee at 6:38 AM even though it no longer heats water and brews coffee.)
It’s not a big deal to get a new coffeemaker. (Let’s see how many people urge me to get a Mac!) I’m just saying-- I’m this far (maybe five or six thousand words or so) from completing a draft of this dang book, and the machines are trying to stop me. That’s all. I’m simply letting them know that I’m onto them.
Which reminds me of something I forgot to post when my family and I got back from our four-day trip to Hawai’i. We were in this village on the east shore of Kaua’i, eating a late lunch of ahi and such things and just having a fine old time, when Janet had the bright idea of getting some Kona coffee to bring home. So we looked around for a coffeeshop, and sure enough, next to the organic grocery and the hemp-acupuncture emporium there was a little place selling Kona beans-- at $35 a pound. Janet suggested that we go in for half a pound, whereupon I said, “look, we’ve flown five thousand miles and we’ve spent god knows what on airfare for four-- you want to save $17.50 in the coffee shop? Let’s just get a pound of the stuff and we’ll mix it into the merely human coffee we have at home, and then at some point when we’re feeling low we’ll make one pot of Kona by itself.” Janet agreed, and we decided also that we’d buy one cup of Kona on the spot, to check it out and to fortify ourselves for the 17-hour journey home.
The young woman in the coffeeshop then told us that the Kona-for-drinking was a couple of hours old and that she’d brew us a new batch so we could get a good sense of what we were getting into. We could come back in, oh, maybe ten minutes.
When we returned, we sipped our fresh Kona, gave it an ecstatic thumbs-up, and ordered a pound of beans to take home. The woman brought out a large bag of beans and a scale that measured weights in the thousandths of grams, and poured us precisely 1.000 pounds (that would be 453.400 grams for you gram fans), for which we duly forked over $35. And as the sipping and the pouring and the weighing and the bagging and the cash-transacting was going on, I asked myself, why does this feel so much like a drug deal? Until I remembered, oh yeah, it is a drug deal.
And, speaking of writing and drugs, this blog will now observe a moment of silence for Hunter S. Thompson. For some reason I’m struck today by the fact that along with the gonzo-ether-Nixon stuff that made him famous, Thompson did some inspired sportswriting; I’ll remember him as much for his line that the 1-iron is a club so evil that pros will not allow it in their bags for fear of its corrupting influence as for his line about Nixon representing the “dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character.” But maybe that’s just me.