Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Well, Poo!

"I'm just a little black rain cloud
Hovering under the honey tree"

Ok, that's not the poo I'm referring to.  Pooh is Number One.  This poo is Number Two.

What did he say?  I'm going to have to think about that.

As you probably know by now, I'm not a coffee drinker.  A few years ago I heard about a new coffee from Thailand called Civet Cat Coffee.  If you've never heard of this coffee, what I'm about to tell you probably won't encourage you to run out and buy some.  First off, it's expensive.  The online retailer Dean & Deluca sells Civet Cat Coffee through the Kopi Luwak brand. One 50 gram bag is $55.  Using the magical Google calculator to convert it to something I understand, it comes out to just under $500 per pound.  Yes.  $500.  Per pound.

Next, what makes this coffee so special?  According to Dean & Deluca, the beans (or cherries) are "digested and fermented by wild civets".  Now, to my internal thesaurus, "digested" is another term for "eaten" and "fermented" means "sits in the intestines until pushed out".  So, the civet cats do all the hard work, climbing the trees, then picking, eating, and - ahem - cleaning the beans.  The farmers just shovel up the forest floor, wash them off, and package them in little bags for gullible foreigners to buy.
Thailand's answer to Juan Valdez
Seems to me the cats do all the hard work.  I guess it's so expensive because there's not that many cats that prefer coffee.  If they'd hire more cats, maybe it wouldn't cost so much.
Well, if that wasn't bad enough, now a Chinese entrepreneur has ventured into my purview with a new product called "Panda Poo Tea".  When I first heard about it, I imagined Kung Fu Panda giving tea plants the civet cat experience before they're dried and packaged for sale.  Fortunately, that is as wrong as it is stomach-turning. 
Panda Poo Tea comes from tea plants grown in a compost bed of panda droppings.  Now, it takes a lot of tea plants to make a pound of tea.  That's a lot of acreage.  A lot of acreage would require a lot of panda scat.  Apparently, that's not a problem.  The average panda creates some 44 pounds of panda poo per day.  44 pounds.  A day.  Every day.  That's enough to make a LEET-speak geek exclaim, "0# $#17!," and rightly so.
He hopes to sell the first harvest of this new tea variety for 22,000 pounds per pound.  For us colonial revolutionaries, that would be a mere $44,000 per pound.  16 ounces.  $44,000.  Now that cat-excreted java seems like a bargain, doesn't it?
I'll stick with a nice Assam, or Lapsang Souchong, or a good English Breakfast.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chrismas Time is Here

Bonus points for me if you can't get Charlie Brown's Christmas out of your head now.

I've been a little out of sorts this past month or so.  I'm sure you're dying to know why, so I'll definitely share, but first the backstory.  I have to share the backstory. I think it's an unwritten blog rule.  After all, what's a blog without a backstory?  That's right, a paragraph.

In 2008 I was down-sized from a company I'd been with since graduating from college.  It was the only full-time job I've ever had.  Since then, I worked two jobs for two years to try to come close to replacing our income.  Then, out of the blue, the second full-time I've ever had gave me the opportunity to further my career elsewhere.  They were gracious enough to keep me on for three months after telling me - basically to train my replacement (technically, he wasn't my replacement, he had a different job title, since giving him the same title might've left a door open for litigation - he just did the same work I was doing).  But, if I hadn't gone through all that, I wouldn't have discovered Awesome Vendors.

Oh yeah, also in the last year of that job, my Sweetie also was down-sized from her full-time job.  Providentially, she found a part time job before my full-time job ended, so we were still ok - after downsizing the family budget to match.  Her new job is in retail, and since it's not Chick-Fil-A, they're open on Sundays.  Sundays that she basically works two on, two off.

Bear with me, I'm about to come to a point.

About that same time, the church we were attending closed it's doors, and my Sweetie working half or more Sundays in a month provides a convenient excuse to lack the initiative to find a new one.  I want to avoid any awkwardness there might be with me visiting some place alone.  "We have a great adult singles ministry." "Are you divorced?"

So, back to being out of sorts.  I miss being in the middle of a congregation and belting out Silent Night, Joy to the World, Angels We Have Heard on High, I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas... (What? Your church doesn't sing about hippopotami?)  Our church was modern church, so we didn't always do the traditional Advent-y things - which I missed long before this year - but I really miss the extra fellowship that seems to come with the season.

To fill the void, we've had our cable set to the Holiday music channel.  The music channels all display bits of trivia at the top and bottom of the screen.  Most of the time it's even relevent.  The holiday channel stretches the definition of relevant. Learning the minimum size for the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is 65 feet tall and 35 feet wide is interesting.  Pointing out that Jim Carrey's character in Dumb and Dumber was named Lloyd Christmas, is dubious at best.  While I uttered a verbal, "Huh!" when I read that Play-Doh was originally created as a wallpaper cleaner, I'm not sure what it has to do with Christmas.

The one piece of trivia you won't find there, is originally there was a reverent version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  My Sweetie and I first heard about it when we heard Twila Paris explain that she'd be singing it a little differently from what was introduced way back in Meet Me In St. Louis.  She said the producers wanted two words changed (the all-knowing internet oracle Wikipedia says there were more words than that).  Instead of "if the Fates allow", it should be "if the Lord allows".  So, anytime we hear that song, we sing the right lyrics and roll our eyes at everyone who sings it wrong.

I'm looking forward to Christmas Sunday.  We'll be in Oklahoma City, and we'll go with family to their slightly-Charismatic-mega-church and be able to join in with hundreds of people who've possibly been to church even less than us, allowing us to still have someone to look down our sanctimonious noses at.

If I don't post before then, Merry Christmas to everyone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Awesome Vendors

I have to create a quick post during lunch here at work just to proclaim that we've got the best vendors in the world.  None of the places I've worked in the past had such generous - and dare I say loving? (ok, maybe that's a little too carried away) - vendors who lavished cornucopian tasties upon us.  (Still too much?  Ok, just a little hyperbolic.)
I have no idea who they are, or what exactly it is that they vend for us, but every day for the past week they've plied the IT Department with goodies.  One day it was festively decorated doughnuts.  Another was banana bread.  One brought bags of pre-popped popcorn (mmm, caramel covered popcorn).  One went healthy on us and brought a box of pears.  Sadly, there was no partridge.  They must have left it in the tree.

Today, it's a variety basket of crackers, cheese spread, nuts, dried fruit, and TEA!  10 glorious bags of English Breakfast tea.  I was courteous and only took one.  English Breakfast is one of my favorite blends, so it's amazing the box hasn't yet found its way into my desk drawer.  All bets are off if it's still there tomorrow.

The octagonal tin had peanut brittle from yesterday until it was finished off before 9:00.

Speaking of tea, I'm totally stealing this from another blog I follow, but I was so impressed I had to share.

I hope you enjoy it, too.