June 5, 2011

Leaving Virginia

Category: Coast Guard,Life,Photography – Marc 15:14

It seems like I just arrived.

Or maybe like I’ve been here forever.

The passage of time is a fickle and unreliable thing in our brains. When I talk to old friends in far-off places, it seems as though I only left last weekend, but as I sit in my worn-in coffee shop (okay, one of my worn-in coffee shops), it feels almost as if I have been sitting here forever. What an odd thing, the brain. Fortunately, we have things like celestial movements and other natural phenomenon that mark seasons and days and hours and the lesser units of time. And lately the myriad mechanical devices in my life that modern wizardry have constructed to harness the vibrations of minerals or the movement of constellations are all conspiring to tell me that I will shortly be required to move to Colorado.

Gracefully summing up my experience in A-school has consistently shown itself to be an exercise in futility, but another interesting function of brain-workings (I’ve noticed) is that graceful summaries offer less meaning than the stories that made the experience real to us. Maybe it’s more of a heart mechanism than one of the brain; it’s fortunate that we have both.

I stayed in the barracks on the training center base, a building called “LaFayette Hall,” after a French General that assisted the Revolutionary War effort (or so I’m told). I was in a room built for four, but there were only three of us: myself, a guy from Ju├írez named Javier, and a dude from Southern California named Kendall. Javier’s wife was pregnant when he got orders, so about midway though the class, he flew back to El Paso for the birth of his son, and then back for more of the learnin’. Kendall was just coming from the Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis, which sails out of Honolulu, and he is going back to work at a intelligence center in Hawaii. I guess he didn’t get enough the first time. The least I could say about these two gentlemen is that I could not have asked for better roommates. They were simply awesome.


I was here at the right time.

We started our running regimen in gloves, hats and sweats, and will be ending it in shorts, sweat-soaked shirts and a profound desire to get into our air-conditioned classrooms. We’ve run out the pier (above, but during the day), through the base, and all around the battlefields. We’ve run down to Yorktown beach and done sprint relays on the sand. We’ve run up ramparts and around cannons. We’ve sang cadences, we’ve stopped traffic, and generally put down more miles than any other two a-schools on base.

The academia here is odd. Before going to Yorktown, people asked me what an Intelligence Specialist really is, and my honest answer had to be that I simply did not know. But now, at the end of school, the answer still hasn’t changed much. The best way I can describe our curriculum is that they taught us the vocabulary and rules of the specialty, so that when our supervisor at our next duty station tells us what our job is, we understand the words he’s using. Sort of like knowing that “RBI” stands for “runs batted in,” but never having the experience of making contact with a pitch.

I went and saw the Virginia Symphony Orchestra a couple of times. The first time was in the middle of “trombone week.” Through a connection our training center band leader had with an individual at the venue, a classmate by the name of Brad Weatherington (four syllables; just like it sounds) and I got dressed up and played with a trombone choir in the lobby before the symphony. My stalwart compatriot departed and I lagged behind to claim a free ticket to the symphony, which was sublime, even from my perch in the nosebleeds, one step in front of a gaggle of freshmen fulfilling a music appreciation requirement. The playbill contained roughly a billion pages of fluff and advertising around the page and a half that told the audience what music was on the players’ stands, but I honed in on one nugget: a schedule for the VSO’s upcoming performances, one of which featured violinist Joshua Bell. I had previously heard of this individual through a Washington Post article a few years back, and the magnanimous language used to describe his playing ability and his instrument piqued my curiosity. So a couple weeks later, I jumped into my bravos, endured some confused questions from some sailors either departing for or returning from various debaucheries, and drove to Norfolk. Words cannot express this man’s skill. If you’ve ever seen a man or creature acting according to nothing but instinct and long years of honed skill, doing so perfectly, effortlessly, and even a bit playfully because the technique is so well formed, then you’ll have some idea of what it was like to watch this guy play violin.

I met some awesome non-Coast Guard people here, too.

I’m going to have to subtitle this section “God’s persistent provision,” because it seems that wherever I land, there’s always someone there to talk with, to remind me of what is right and true when such things are actively being assaulted in my day-to-day. So before coming to Virginia, I used the “nine marks” website to find a theologically solid group of wretched sinners (for such am I), and landed at Peninsula Community Chapel in Newport News. They were bigger than I expected, but I picked up a pamphlet for “home groups” and decided to make an effort to attend one. And so I landed at the home of a Navy LT with a group of twenty-ish people, including trumpet players from both the Army and Air Force. All we needed was a Marine. So that’s where I met Keith, Matt, the other Matt, Tanner, Aaron, Carl, Liz, Amy, and about a dozen other people who I wish I had more time to really do some life with (an expression that I will use in defiance of its co-option by CCM radio and horrendously dangled participle. Three people out there will understand that. I’m sorry.).

I was also given the chance to meet and have dinner on a few occasions with a fine gentleman named Brett, who works in Colonial Williamsburg as a shoemaker, and if you call men of his profession “cobblers,” he will sternly educate you in the finer points of colonial language, particularly that cobblers were mere menders of shoes; the fast-food workers to his gourmet-level shoemaking. I saw this re-education given by a young reenactor no less than five times at the front door of his shop. I didn’t actually meet Brett at Williamsburg (which was a bit too pricey for a mere E-3 with an expensive bullet habit), but at a coffee shop near the base (I know, I know). One Saturday, as I was ordering a cup of coffee, I noticed a pamphlet for an Anglican Church meeting the following night, and I commented that Anglicans aren’t seen much these days. The barista was ambivalent to my comment, but the Anglican pastor and his wife standing right behind me in line were more than willing to engage in lively discourse on the merits of Anglicanism and my attendance the following night, secured by the promises of tasty things and free coffee. So I attended, and was marginally disappointed, as it was not an introduction to potential Anglican neophytes, but an exploratory meeting for any (already) Anglicans interested in starting a congregation in the area. And as their projected dates for starting said congregation were a month or more after I was scheduled to leave town, I attempted to make small talk with the people at my table and enjoy the coffee (which, truth be told, was fairly adequate). I was at a table with Brett and his wife, Wendy, and after we parted our ways, I marked an interesting trend in my life. Whenever I talk for too long with a married couple older than, say, 35, I inevitably get an invitation to a home-cooked meal. This might just be a spiritual gift of mine, or maybe I exude a “lost puppy” aura, but whatever it is, people are perpetually trying to feed me. And that’s all right by me, because Brett and Wendy and their five kids live in a Colonial house in Williamsburg and are some of the most delightful, literate, and polite people I have ever had the pleasure to meet, to say nothing of Wendy’s homemade guacamole (a traditional colonial recipe, I’m sure).

I had a good time here. I flew kites, I found good singletrack, I was thrown off my bike on said singletrack. I lost a great knife. I saw a couple of good friends on a long motorcycle trip. I read books and wrote letters. I received letters which buoyed my spirit on the days when I had to stay on base. I made friends and acquaintances, I watched movies and listened to sermons. I was shanghaied into an Easter lunch by a random guy at church. And so I am glad to be leaving, but only because my time here has proven over and over again that wherever I go, there will be God’s people; the ones I already know and love, and the ones that I have yet to meet.

Wherever you go, go in peace.

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February 22, 2011

Loupe photography.

Category: Life,Photography – Marc 23:39

A loupe, I found out, is a small magnifying glass used to examine things that are very small, like photo negatives or gems.

This became relevant when I was in Minneapolis with Nick and Kristin (with two “i”s). Nick’s Grandfather was a town Sheriff of some repute, and left to Nick a cigar box of writing utensils. And one lupe. The writing utensils were our first target, as we had received reports of fountain pens therein. Nick and I are, needless to say (but I shall), nerds, so we managed to locate said fountain pens, and with the assistance of the world-wide internets, some ammonia, and sizable numbers of paper towels, rendered both of them fairly usable. Woohoo.


Onto the Loupe.

Just for giggles, I decided to take some photos through the loupe. The camera with 50mm f/1.2 lens was afixed to Nick’s tripod and pointed in the general direction of some good lighting, provided by a friendly lamp. I love lamp.
Here’s what I got (and these are not cropped thumbs):

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February 20, 2011

Departures, Arrivals

Category: Coast Guard,Life – Marc 15:29

The moon chased me out of Michigan on Friday night. All orange and complete, it rose in my rearview mirror between the roadside ranks of trees, gathering more and more light until it became a great bright beacon over my left shoulder as I burned road over the northern coast of Lake Michigan.

My departure from St. Ignace was not with a bang or a whimper, but with a flurry of last-minute packing, firm handshakes from the men and women that I have come to rely upon in my day-to-day duties, and hugs from the men and women who have formed my church family the rest of the time. But at the end of it all, once the bike and the snowboard were secured to the top of my little car, and my keys were left on the kitchen table, a kind of silence came over everything, like a layer of newly fallen snow.

So I left.

I left later than I had planned, but such is life at times. The first four or five hours of the drive were, for lack of a better term, harrowing. I have a wonderful little application written for kite surfers (among whom I cannot honestly number myself) on my cell phone called “Buoy Buddy” that pulls information from NOAA’s data buoys and formats it in friendly, color-coded arrows. Blue for insufficient wind, green for prime kiting conditions, and red for conditions that will probably result in you being injured in spectacular ways if you try to throw a power kite into it. The map that day showed an echelon of red arrows pointing at the front of my car. It occurred to me as I was driving that operating a car with an A-brake would be a similar experience. An A-brake that you can’t retract. The snowboard, carefully lashed to my kayak rack with paracord, offered the greatest thrills, as it caught sideways gusts with tremendous enthusiasm. But I made it safely through two “Welcome to [State]” signs and arrived at the apartment of Nick and Kristin Throckmorton, two of my most favorite people in the explored world.

My hosts were gracious enough to show me to several of the better coffee shops in the area (which are numerous, to say the least). Getting to choose between several coffee establishments that could pull world-class espresso is a surreal experience for me. In St. Ignace the choice was “how many hours do I want to drive to get coffee that was roasted only a month ago?” Also, Kristin told me about a tea store that sells Lapsang Souchoung, previously only seen at Dead River in Marquette. Nick and Kristin are two of my favorite people, not only for their world-renowned base-jumping skills, but because they’re my sort of crazy. Nick produced a cigar box of two-generation-old pens and pencils, which included a pair of fountain pens which we then wrestled into functioning conditions with some spare cartridges and loose ink that I had around.

Later, Nick and I went out to the “Stone Arch Bridge,” a pedestrian / bike bridge over the Mississippi with a camera and a tripod. I enjoy shooting at night quite a bit; likely because when you hold a shutter open for a great length of time, you get to see more than what your eyes can take in. When shooting in the daytime, the best you can do is reproduce what you saw, but at nighttime, you can smooth out running water lit by neon signs and (with a little bit of trickery) capture the nearly-unlit and the deep shadowy places. Pics below.

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February 27, 2010

Shooting Steel

Category: Guns – Marc 16:27

I’m always on the hunt for interesting things to shoot.

Killing animals really doesn’t appeal to me much, and punching holes in paper (while fun) lacks a certain panache in addition to forcing you to walk up on the target to see how you shot. Granted, having a nice little cluster of holes to hang on your mom’s fridge is pretty wonderful, but sometimes you want something a little more… reactive. And for the record, my mom has likened me bringing in good targets for her fridge to a cat dragging a recently eviscerated rodent up to the front door and leaving it in your shoes.



Exactly like this.

Enter steel shooting.

The concept has been around for a while. The advantages are that you get instant feedback from good distance on your hits and after the initial expense, your equipment is more-or-less reusable. More recently, steel shooting has taken a prominent place in timed / speed shooting competitions, as those events are less about getting your holes very (very) close together, and more about just getting rounds on target as fast as you can. And if your steel target is about the same size as a (say) Coast Guard qualification target’s 5-ring, then every “ping” means a good hit. Sounds like a plan.

Let’s kick the research.

The first instinct when considering shooting at metal is to say “won’t it ricochet back?” Not so, sir, not so. First of all, bullets are made mostly of soft lead, with enough copper to hold it together in flight. Not very hard. Secondly, it is moving very, very fast. Whenever it impacts a flat object at a right angle, one of the two things will happen: 1) the bullet will stay together and its insane kinetic energy will punch through whatever it hits, or 2) the bullet will fail to penetrate the target and “splash” on impact, sending low-velocity lead fragments at right angles away from its original trajectory.

The key to getting category (2) impacts is to use heavy, hardened steel that will resist penetration and cratering. The internet told me that 3/8″ or 1/2″ AR400-500 or Brinel 500 steel is the way to go. I have no idea what those are; don’t ask. There are places out there who sell good steel targets for this use. Here are some links.

One thing that should be apparrent from these places is that “real” steel targets are expensive, especially if you get ones that fall down and spring back up or move around or do your taxes for you. Anyway. So if buying a legit plate rack was out of my price range, what’s a guy to do? Easy. Make it yourself!

The key to DIY projects with very particular material components is (I’ve found) to go to a supplier who is small enough that they’ll take your call, but big enough that your project would be trivial for them. I found “Bunker Manufacturing” in Sault Ste Marie who use 1/2″ AR400 hardened steel for snow plows on big trucks. They also had a 7-inch wide strip left over from a project that was functionally scrap for them. At my bequest (and a few bucks), they plasma-torched five squares for me, and put a couple holes in them for hanging.

They were not pretty, but pretty wasn’t the goal. The guy I talked to at Bunker offered to have it CNC machined for me, but when I told him that I was just going to be throwing high-velocity lead at it, we had a good laugh and agreed that a simple torching would be sufficient. This ain’t fine art, people. As far as coming up with a way to hang them from… whatever, my original idea was to put a couple of stainless steel snap hooks through the holes, but the half-inch steel made that impractical, as did the >$5 cost per hook. The best thing that Fireman McGarry and I were able to come up with was a solution involving loops of steel cable and little hammer-down clamps. No word yet on how they’ll stand up to gunfire. Also, at the suggestion of a hardware store proprietor, I obtained a few electrical conduit hangers with cross bolts that seem to fit well enough. Cheap, but of questionable durability.



And now, for something to hang them from. From which to hang them. Them hang for which from.

*ahem*

And now that I had the plates, I needed some sort of hanging system. There we go. With the assistance of the aforementioned Alex McGarry, we constructed a frame out of 2x4s and three threaded rods (two pictured) in a ladder configuration. A series of nuts and washers made the whole thing easily collapsable for transport, as well as offering the means to configure my five target plates however I like.

This is the product of going to the range a half-hour before sunset on a very cold day.

Okay, so let’s talk some science. The things that will wreck steel targets are kinetic energy over a small impact area and excessively hard projectile composition.

Last things, first: the rounds. Most bullets will penetrate a half-inch of hardened steel, but only if they can stay together. Fortunately, they can’t (most of the time). Several commenters on forums that I read expressed chagrin at people who would bring M855 steel-core rounds to the range and turn their beautiful (and costly) steel plates into swiss cheese. Full-lead or soft-point (the copper jacket on the projectile doesn’t cover the tip) rounds are ideal.

KE
Kinetic Energy, or how “hard” the round hits the target, is also crucial to consider. Since KE is related to the mass of the bullet, times the square of its velocity (KE=mv^2), if you make the round move twice as fast, it will hit four times as hard. I hope that makes sense for you.
Some Numbers:
9mm Para: hits the target 25 yards away with 583(ish) joules of energy over a surface area of about 64mm^2.
.223 Remington (a small, fast-moving rifle round) hits the target with 936(ish) joules of energy, over a surface area of 24mm^2, but only at 200 yards away from the target. Bring it into 50 yards, and you’re hitting with 1490 joules over a much smaller area than the nine-mil, which is why everyone on the inter-nets seemed to caution against bringing small, fast rifle rounds in close. The generally agreed-upon principles seem to be these: 1) Don’t shoot hot rifle rounds inside of 50 yards, and 2) Don’t shoot within 10 yards, period, as “splash” can still happen.

My Report
It was cold out, so I didn’t shoot much. But what I did shoot gave me some interesting data. First off, I hit it a few times at 25 yards or so with some full-jacketed, 115gr 9mm, out of my venerable H&K USP Compact (now on its second firing pin!). As you can see in the picture below, the worst thing that happened to the plate was that it was stained by the lead splattering everywhere. No damage to the steel.

And then I shot it with the AR. At 50 yards. Nearly 1500 Joules of “ping,” which I believe is deemed “a whole lot” by whoever classifies such things. As you can see below, the effects were slightly more tangable.

Conclusions
As you can see, the .223 hits did crater the plates a bit, but I won’t be shooting that rifle in at that distance very often, and the handgun rounds were only minorly inconvenient to the steel. And in both cases, the shooting was very, very fun. The “BANpGingggg” coupled with the swinging plate makes you think that the bullet actually did some work, above and beyond simply making a hole where before there was none.

In the above picture, you might also note that a round landed nearly in one of the hanging holes. It actually ended up punching the bolt clean through (I never found it) and making the plate swing over like an old-timey sign after the villain storms out and slams the door too hard. The simile worked in my head, I promise. At the end of the day, if the cable-hangs don’t offer anything better in the way of survivability, I swear I’ll just go to zip-ties. Here’s to becoming a better shot!

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December 12, 2009

Wind Chill

Category: Coast Guard – Marc 15:14

New post, been a while, etc. etc. etc.

Sort of a crazy day today.

My day began with a phone call at 0345 (that’s still-sleeping o’clock for all ‘ya civillians) which a co-worker across the room answered. I’m a light sleeper, so the phone ringing woke me up and I was able to peripherially understand his end of the conversation. It went something like this:

“hey, not bad, how are you?”
(pause)
“yeah, we have a boat.”
(long sigh)
(to the rest of us in the room): “Bridge jumper.”

Everything jumped into motion.

Seaman Wirick ran up to comms to get the relevant information and start the case, Fireman Bowne, my roommate and fellow guitar/gun nut lept from his rack and took of down the hallway towards the SAR room (and made it halfway there) before realizing that he was still in his boxers.

The rest of us rolled out and grabbed our cold-weather gear from the ready room and began the arduous process of putting on the clothes that would keep us alive if we fell into 32-degree water. Polypropeline underwear, check. Sock liners, check. Wool socks, check. MSD-901 dry suit… hang on, gotta contort… myself… check. Wool beanie under fleece balaclava, check. Ski goggles, check. Boots, check. Big snow gloves, check. An assortment of knives, pens and flashlights, check. That feeling in your gut that is equal parts apprehension and adrenaline dump… check.

Because the weather here has been windy above the average, we’ve been keeping the boat moored at a better protected slip, so after we were all dressed out, we piled into our Dodge Caravan and took off down the road. On arriving, we ran down the pier to our faithful Textron Marine motor lifeboat where the engineers got everything engine-related warming up and the “deckies” pried the frozen lines from bits and cleats. At sometime between “way too early” and “way too late,” we were off.

After a brief stop to the station to pick up a SLDMB, we navigated around the Graham Shoal waters and pulled up to the bridge, some eighty feet below the flashing lights of rescue vehicles on the road above. We flipped a life ring with a flashing light overboard and BM3 Feldman gave me steering directions through a “victor sierra” search pattern, which we used to determine “set and drift,” or the general direction that the wind and water were pushing things. Sector Sault Ste. Marie also wanted to track the currents, so they directed us to drop the SLDMB at the same place that we threw our life ring. Aye aye, and MK3 Gagnon and I drug the long cardboard box out of the survivor’s compartment, looked at each other, and realized that neither of us had any idea how this dang thing worked. Fortunately, I’m a nerd and it came with an instruction booklet. Here’s how the conversation went:
Gagnon: “What are we supposed to do?”
me: “um… it has instructions for dropping from a helo, a c-130, a hu-25 and a few other aircraft.”
Gagnon: “We’re on a boat.”
me: “yes. yes, we are.”
(flips pages)
me: (skimming) “… upon contact with water the tape will dissolve… something, something… Hey, just throw it overboard.”
Gagnon: “Really? Just… overboard?”
me: “… yeah. pretty sure. Just chuck it.”
Gagnon: “uh… aye aye!” (throws tube over)

With our set and our drift in hand and a Dolphin buzzing overhead giving us spotlight envy, we received instructions from the powers that be to begin our search west of the bridge, going up and down the length of the bridge, gradually working our way east: the direction of the drift. By this point, the spray screen in front of the open bridge was completely iced over, as well as the non-skid on the bow of the boat. For the record, when non-skid is iced over, you may as well just call it “skid.” So to begin our search, Fireman Bowne and MK3 Gagnon put on a couple of heavy-weather harnesses (used here as “icy deck harnesses”) and clipped into the very front of the boat, Gagnon on the left, Bowne on the right.

A few notes for the statistics-minded:
Time: oh-cold-thirty
Water Temp: 35f
Air Temp: 15f
Wind Chill: 8f
Waves: 4-6 feet

After roughly 45 minutes of our “creeping line” search, Bowne and Gagnon had been added to the list of boat fixtures that were frozen over, and those of us sitting on the top parts of the boat were either losing our dinner or coming close to it. The search track that we were running went roughly north-south across the straits. The waves in that area predominately travel east-west. Taking waves to the side of your boat (beam-to) makes the boat roll. Rolling boats make boatswain’s mates paint the deck.

Having seen nothing in the water, we continued on.

At one point, our engineer-cicles came below to warm up and BM3 Ryan and I skated our way to the bow, clipped in, and scanned the water as the boat ran the straits, back and forth, back and forth.

Gradually, very gradually, the skies in the East began to lighten up, beginning with the surface of the water changing from an impenetrable black to a deep blue with the pink of an early-morning sunrise lighting off the wave peaks.

It’s 0800 now, and the sun is beginning to claw its way over the horizon, signifying the end of our searching. Sector told us that we would likely be recalled at “first light,” so as our eyes grew tired from the long night of peering into the darkness, our hope rose that we would soon be allowed to return for a few hours of well-deserved sleep. The colors of the morning sky have always made me catch my breath. The one patch of cloud in a field of cold, pale blue that catches on fire in the pre-dawn, a blazing pink portent of the day to come.

And I wondered.

If the individual for whom we were searching had just waited. Just waited four hours and seen what we were seeing, would things have turned out differently? Does a sunrise only matter to people who love life, or can it do the work of convincing those who hate it? It was all academic, anyway; a poet’s attempt at explaining war. But in those dawning moments, I had great pity for that person; that human, made in the likeness of God himself, who loves us enough to give us sunrises and still let us cast ourselves into dark water out of hate or spite or blindness.

We all reacted differently to this unseen, unfound person.

There was anger. Reciprocal hatred for this person who despised life enough to cast it away.

There were shrugs and falling-back on tired phrases: “it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” as though we knew what those temporary problems were.

One guy sat down and wrote far too much.

And many people permitted themselves to feel nothing but chagrin at the inconvenience that had been wrought on their night’s sleep. Selfishness begets selfishness.

And so now, the day after, I still am no closer to solving this great problem: Is life merely cruel and cold? I think not. The one conclusion that I am certain of is that life is necessarily active. It will never simply take care of itself. Just like the wind whipped across our boat, come to steal heat from our hands and feet and exposed skin, we had to put on our dry suits and stamp our feet and rub our hands and go inside the boat to get warm when it all just got too much. And maybe some people just don’t realize that they need warm boats when the wind blows cold.

It would feel suitably poetic to leave things there, no conclusions or imperitives, but I do have one. Friends, when life gets chilly, relieve each other somehow. Nobody can stand on the bow in the freezing spray forever.

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June 17, 2009

Finally

Category: Life – Marc 17:57

I think we all knew it was coming to this.

And frankly, I’m relieved.

mmm.

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May 31, 2009

Old Posts

Category: Uncategorized – Marc 13:09

Hey! All of my old (pre-2009) posts are at kadescoffee.net. I thought they were gone forever!

edit:
maybe they still are. At this point, I don’t care enough to sort through all of the different server aliases and databases.

edit:
Disregard all above. The URL is dead (long live the URL).

Comments (1)

Saturday Driving.

Category: coffee,Life – Marc 13:00

When Nick and Andy came to town, we attempted to hit all of the coffee-selling establishments and rate their brewed coffee, atmosphere and espresso shots. The results were so disappointing that I won’t bother to post them.

So where can you go to get good coffee around here?

One option: Marquette, MI.


Analog.

Analog is the word that I would use to describe Dead River Coffee.
From the could-be-in-an-antique store scales to the faded rugs and the friendly roaster who still prefers to roast according to flame heights, this place is a definite anachronism. I had two cups of coffee from East Asia while I was there: a Monsooned Malbar and a Sumatra Manhelding, both brewed through an “Aero Press.” They were both incredible.

Is it wrong to want to move to a city just because you found an amazing coffee shop? It is? What if they get their green from one of the better importers out there? What if it’s obvious that they don’t take seriously anything that isn’t coffee or people?

There was a “National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders” sitting on the adjacent table. I imagine it was there because somebody else was reading it. And I think that’s pretty rare. Ella’s infamous butchery of “Mack the Knife” was playing out of an old stereo in the corner.

But the part of this store that I love most of all is this: there’s not really any walls. Espressoland, the People’s Republic of Roaster and Cash Register Heights are all free for you just to wander into, no passport required. I had to leave before I went AWOL just over a cup of bean soup.

I met a couple of college kids, Mia and Matt, who seem to spend their days thinking, which is something of a rarity these days. It was good being around nerds who know that “nerd” isn’t derisive.

So. Here’s the numbers:
Coords: N 46 32.4442′ W 087 23.6354′
Coffee: A solid 9. Small-batch roasted on-site, not afraid to hold a roast back to “cinnamon” if it gets you the best cup.
Espresso: 6. I really wanted to like it, but if you’ve ever chewed on a coffee bean, the gross tannic taste that makes the experience un-delicious was in my doppio.
Atmosphere: Just the shop: 9. Include the town: 11. Seriously, this place felt like Boulder or something. Bikers everywhere, legit multi-use paths (not just paint-designated shoulders), farmers’ markets and cute shops. And a massive lake.

Images:

Oh, and I also got a kayak. Details in the alt-text.

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May 26, 2009

Images:

Category: Life – Tags: , , – Marc 20:19

From Camping with Nick & Andy:



From Open Mic night at Brother’s:


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Long drives, accoustic guitars and high school androgny

Category: Uncategorized – Tags: , – Marc 15:03

Also, Kant, rain, poorly eq’ed PA system and a blog post written on an iPod.

I sit presently at Brother’s Coffee, in Gaylord, MI. Every Tuesday, they have an open mic night: black Takamine guitars, bumper-stickered cases, tight jeans, Converse low-tops and t-shirts advocating bands with an appropriate level of obscurity. You know the scene. Mix that with on-site roasting and a LaMarzocco FB-70 and I deem it worth the hour-long drive. I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this post; I’m mostly just writing to test the usability of the iPod touch WordPress app and to gain a small reprieve from “Critique of Pure Reason.”. Heck, I’m not yet halfway through the introduction. I might shift to “Hawke,” an Aunt Pat-recommended thriller.

The guys on stage have put the ‘Tak down and are now
riffing with a didgory-do and a djembe. I’m reasonably confident that I spelled at least one of those right. Anyway, I’m pretty sure Mandy would completely dig this. I wonder if they’ll play any Josh Radin. I doubt it; they’ve been sticking pretty close to Fallout Boy and Three Doors Down and for the love of all that is good, will somebody de-muddy the high-mids?!

Hey, here’s something cool: last Thursday and Friday found my good friends Andy and Nick (of olden-day extrashot fame) up in the northern regions for a visit. We went camping and shooting and trail-riding. It was a killer time; I’ll post some pictures when I get home.

Okay, back to Kant. Keep livin’ the adventure, friends.

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