A good cup of coffee should be simple to make. Two ingredients, one of them water. And yet, it’s so easy to screw it up. Lately I’ve been following the advice of Spec. John Grimes in “Black Hawk Down,” who believed it was all in the grind — can’t be too fine, can’t be too coarse. Today, I got it right. Today, I am well-coffee’d.
I wish I’d written down the precise number of seconds I whirled those beans in the grinder. But then the perfect would be too attainable. Live in the now, Garth.
OK, so what’s going on in Cairo? Live feeds on CNN and MSNBC, the usual yapping blondes on Fox. I’ve given up trying to watch Al-Jazeera online; when I can connect, the plug-in crashes, but I usually can’t connect. The people I know who have a keen interest in overseas news all keep a second satellite dish aimed at their bird of choice. Fortunately, we have this thing called the written word, which I’ve always preferred to grainy satellite images, anyway. A former colleague of mine, Ash Khalil, is reporting from Cairo:
The first sign that things were about to tip badly into darkness came shortly after the Internet returned. I was in a taxi with a group of journalists heading to opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei’s home on the outskirts of Cairo to attempt an interview. From the other direction came what looked like a 1,000-person march of pro-Mubarak supporters chanting slogans like “We love the president” and “He’s not going.” Many of the protesters were riding horses and camels — from the looks of them, many appeared to be tourist touts coming from the stables clustered around the Pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo. At the time, my colleagues and I thought it made for a great journalistic visual; we snapped a few pictures and furiously started scribbling in our notebooks. Within hours, those horses and camels had been used in a bizarre, medieval mounted charge into the unarmed civilians occupying Tahrir.
Attack camels. Now that would be something to see.
Actually, the entire Foreign Policy website is useful for Egypt news, with some nice photography, as well. I recommend this photo essay. Diplomacy is such a tricky art.
The battle was waged by Mohammed Gamil, a dentist in a blue tie who ran toward the barricades of Tahrir Square. It was joined by Fayeqa Hussein, a veiled mother of seven who filled a Styrofoam container with rocks. Magdi Abdel-Rahman, a 60-year-old grandfather, kissed the ground before throwing himself against crowds mobilized by a state bent on driving them from the square. And the charge was led by Yasser Hamdi, who said his 2-year-old daughter would live a life better than the one he endured.
“Aren’t you men?” he shouted. “Let’s go!”
Whenever I read things like this, I wonder where I’d be if this were happening in my city. On the one hand, it’s easy to climb the cannon and shout charge! That great military mind, Ashley Wilkes, told Scarlett, “Fighting is like champagne. It goes to the heads of cowards as quickly as of heroes.” On the other hand, once the charge is under way, I guess you discover what you’re made of.
So. Severe clear here today, a day for mirrored sunglasses and the down parka. As difficult as it is to realize at the moment (11 degrees F), the earth is turning back toward the sun, and the signs are everywhere. I dropped Kate off for jazz-band practice this morning in daylight, if not quite the broad kind. Groundhog Day. And tomorrow is the first parent informational meeting for high-school registration. Mercy. How did that happen?
I’m off to Costco, dodging no impediment fiercer than the weather and Michigan potholes. In the meantime, much good bloggage:
Jim at Sweet Juniper found some ghost signs uncovered in a demolition, dug deeper, and turned up an interesting story about one of the companies:
In looking into the history of this company, I was surprised to learn of a controversy from a hundred years ago that largely mirrors many of the current concerns with the garment manufacturing industry and third-world sweatshops. It appears that many companies manufacturing clothes after the turn of the century—mainly those making clothes for sale through large catalog retailers or national chains—used deeply-discounted prison labor as part of their manufacturing processes.
Seventy-year-old Michigan farmer foils theft of anhydrous ammonia in the middle of the blizzard.
Forgot this yesterday, but Mark Bittman filed his first non-recipe column this week, and it’s a food manifesto for the future. He’s got a way with words:
Nearly everything labeled “healthy” or “natural” is not. It’s probably too much to ask that “vitamin water” be called “sugar water with vitamins,” but that’s precisely what real truth in labeling would mean.
Finally, one more reason to love “Mad Men.” You know how all the women look so great, and you ask yourself, “Why can’t I find a dress like Betty Draper’s?” Well, now you can.
Time for new contacts and the aforementioned sunglasses. I’m heading out.