Winter Is Here!

The snowblower started right up, but wouldn’t keep going when I activated the drive or blade levers. I quickly abandoned that and returned to shoveling. It took about an hour and forty-five minutes to shovel the main driving areas of the driveway, which is good enough at this point. Hopefully, the snowblower will work better when it’s not 5am and dark. Time for work, coffee, and a cinnamon roll.

Recollection of Driving Alone

I park my 1996 white Ford Explorer outside each night. The snow piles on. The plow plows it in. The moisture inside from the tracking in of snow on my boots is frozen deep into the synthetic gray carpet fibers and won’t escape until late spring. There is ice on the windshield from the warm defroster air blowing on it during my five minute drive home from work the night before.

My car is exceptionally clean on the inside. Especially for such an old car. There are only a few things inside it: an ice scraper, a pair of snowshoes, and a frisbee leftover from summertime fun.

It’s not the detail of my car that I’m reminded of this morning, but the trips I have taken in it. Specifically, not any one trip in particular, but any of the long cross-half-country trips that began before sunrise on the cold like today.

There was a routine to it all. I’d unlock the driver’s door and pull it open slowly so that the snow along the top edge wouldn’t fall and blow all over the driver’s seat. Then I would set my full travel mug of hot coffee down in the cup holder before starting the car. Once it was cleared of snow, I’d jump in (careful, always, to know my shoes together to rid them of snow).

Like we’re taught in elementary school that stories have a beginning, middle and end, the drives that began before sunrise and lasted through the day had the same progression. The beginning and end were enjoyable – the middle I just had to get through.

Early on in the drive, my leather seats were cold and warming up. I was settling into the seat and the heat in the car was still cold. My coffee kept me warm, but the empty bottom of the mug always showed itself before my first stop for gas. Early morning radio – usually Mike & Mike or another news variety show – was better than the repeat information I would hear the rest of the day. I rarely listened to music.

Eventually, there was a point – maybe an hour into the ride – when I would feel settled. I would enter the zone and just keep the car rolling. This was maintained, despite stops along the way.

Getting out to get gas, snacks, more coffee – that was a challenge. Usually the weather was cold and blowing. There were times when the gas would blow on my pants and I’d have to change to escape the smell.

How Coffee Works

More like how caffeine works. And you’ll find a much more thorough explanation here, where I read about this. But here is the gist:

  • If you have never consumed caffeine before, it will initially increase your focus.
  • Saturation of this increase occurs after just two to three weeks of consumption.
  • At that point, the caffeine no longer increases your focus. Instead, you need it to reach your normal level of thinking.
  • Drinking more coffee will not further increase your focus once you’ve reached the saturation point.
  • Merely abstaining for five to ten days will return you to normal levels form saturation levels.

Price Per Gallon

When compared to the price per gallon of other liquids gas is relatively modest. I would argue that whether the price per gallon of gas is modest should also be judged with regard to the volume consumed and the demand for that liquid.

Interesting to note that if my car, like my body, ran on coffee, purchasing 25 gallons of Folger’s home brewed coffee would only cost me $17.50. However, if I filled my car with Starbucks coffee at $1.86 / 16oz it would cost me $378.

Here are some prices per gallon for various liquids (link):

* Coffee – $0.70
* Gas – $2.70
* Milk – $3.79
* Eggs – 5.76
* Beer – $8.88
* Chocolate Syrup – $13.23
* RedBull – $30.69
* Robitussin DM – 109.76
* Scorpion Venom – $38,858,507.46

The Demise of the Coffee Cup (and Coffee)

Coffee used to be simple. It was what we drank in the morning to wake up. It was a grown-up drink. An acquired taste. Something that smelled good, but tasted just OK. For years, coffee was consumed in moderation, not guzzled like an SUV goes through gasoline. But now, something has gone wrong. We’ve allowed coffee to take us over. To dominate our street corners and our pocketbooks. At ten bucks a day for a couple coffee drinks, many of us have to budget coffee. We tell our accountants that we need more money. That we can’t afford our habit. That the large cups are distorting our demand, and the supply is lacking. “We need more,” we shout, but only the devil, disguised as a busty coffee goddess named Starbucks, hears us.

At 25 years old, I’m young compared to coffee. But, I’ve seen enough old movies and heard enough stories of the “good ol’ days” to know the truth. I didn’t live the ups and downs of coffee, but I can empathize because we are in a coffee recession right now. Not for lack of coffee, but for lack of appreciation – for lack of respect.

The old movies show gritty detectives walking over to a grimy glass pot half full of day old coffee with grounds settled to the bottom. These men don’t grab a cup the size of the town water tower. They get a small white styrofoam cup and fill it up far enough to warm cold hands, but not so high that the simple act of walking will cause the coffee to spill and burn their hands. This is the kind of cup coffee was made for.

And jackets? Why does my coffee cup need a jacket? Why do I have to go through the trouble of putting a jacket on my coffee? Shouldn’t, considering the technological advances made during the past century, the jacket be attached to the cup?

And my biggest pet peeve. The one that gets me with each purchase is the modern cup seam that forms a tiny gap between the lid and the lower part of the seam that allows coffee to leak through and drip onto my fingers while I’m walking to class. If the coffee is hot, I get burned. If it’s cold, then it’s just disgusting. Either way, I can’t imagine a gritty detective having to deal with this distraction. It just wouldn’t happen then, and there’s no reason to tolerate it now. We deserve better.