Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Coffee Talk

I am an avid coffee drinker. I drink it more than most people and perhaps more than I should. The funny thing is I don't drink it because I like coffee. I drink it because of the cream and sweetener I can add to it. My coffee has to be right color when I add the cream (real heavy cream too, not that half and half or Coffee Mate stuff). A nice creamy tan color. If it's not, the experience is ruined for me. If I couldn't add cream and sweetener to my coffee, I would not drink it. Oh, I've sacrificed on occasions when I've convinced myself that I needed to watch my fat intake by omitting the cream. But black coffee with sweetener just doesn't cut it. The cream makes the coffee for me and makes it edible. I have never understood people that drink coffee black because coffee, on its own, tastes quite nasty.

I don't like strongly brewed coffee. I was watching the Barefoot Contessa, whom I absolutely love, and she said that you need 1 tablespoon for every cup of coffee to brew the perfect pot of coffee. I adapted that to 1 teaspoon per cup and it is perfect for me. My mother-in-law is the opposite. There are many wives out there who resent it when their mother-in-laws take over their kitchen but, I love it. I view cooking as a necessary evil. I have to eat to live and if I only ate take out I would be as big as a house, so I must cook. My mother-in-law comes over several times a year and I look forward to sleeping in while she fixes breakfast and any other meal her heart desires. She is the opposite of me when it comes to coffee. She likes it black and the stronger the better. One day, I drank her coffee and it was so strong, it made my face tingle.

This was my experience in Germany. I had to have coffee every morning, more out of habit than anything else, and instead of my usual 3 or 4 mugs, I could only stomach one tea cup of coffee. Americans serve their coffee in mugs. Germans serve theirs in tea cups. One of our companions went to the McDonalds hoping to get a larger cup of coffee. The "Grande" size couldn't even pass for a small coffee in the US. It was the tiniest thing and the source of much ridicule. One tea cup was enough for me because the coffee is quite strong in Germany. I brought back a bag and still struggle to get the measurement right so that the coffee is weak enough for my taste.

I went to get a latte at a coffee shop down the street from the hotel and the size of that cup annoyed me. For Starbucks prices, I need a bbbbiiiigggg cup, people! And they served it with this annoying little, button sized "cookie". One "cookie"! What am I supposed to do with that? Of course the "latte" was quite strong and no amount of sweetener could kill the strong coffee taste. Thankfully, by the last few days of our stay, I had figured out that the "milchkaffee" was right up my alley. It's about 75% milk and 25% coffee and simply delicious!

Insurance is a Rip Off!

I have been compiling a list of jobs that I just think are evil. One day, I sat at my office window watching a meter maid walking down the street and issuing parking tickets to car after car. Writing the tickets is understandable. If they're parked illegally, they're parked illegally. But, that wasn't enough for this woman. Noooo. She apparently called this tow truck company who sent several trucks to tow the cars that were parked illegally. What sense did that make? The people will come back out to their cars to find no car and no ticket. How would they know the car was towed or which company towed it? That day, I was able to add two more evil jobs to my list: vindictive meter maids and nonconsensual towing companies.

I added another job to my list this past week: insurance claims adjuster. Their job is to deny you the coverage that you have diligently paid for. I pay my home insurance company almost $800 a year to cover my home in case something happens. Insurance companies sell piece of mind, don't they? Yet they write policies that has exclusions for just about every occurrence. Their objective is to have me pay them but they don't have to pay me when I need them too. And this is legal! My air conditioner went out so I called my insurance company since I don't have a few thousand laying around to replace it. I was told by the claims adjuster that they would only pay for the air conditioner if some "event" had occurred that caused it to malfunction. My air conditioner died of old age but, if a tree had fallen on it, or if my husband ran into it with the lawn mower, then it would be covered. But since it just stopped working, there is no coverage. Huh? Does that make any sense? The bottom line is that it is not working! Who cares how it got that way?

In the meantime, I have been sweltering in the 90+ degree weather. Thank God the unit in the basement still works.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Weltschmerz

I was watching the Scripps spelling bee the other night and after 2 nerve wracking hours (the suspense was almost as bad as watching a horror movie), this word appeared. Of course, I had no idea what it meant and couldn't even begin to spell it and I felt sorry for that poor Canadian girl for having been the unlucky one to draw that word. When the announcer stated the definition, my head jerked up and as she struggled to come up with the correct spelling, I realized that this word perfectly describes the state that I have been in for the past few years. The definition from m-w.com:

Main Entry: welt·schmerz
Pronunciation: 'velt-"shmerts
Function: noun
Usage: often capitalized
Etymology: German, from Welt world + Schmerz pain

1 : mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state
2 : a mood of sentimental sadness

I think depression is too strong a word. I am by no means depressed and this has been verified by a therapist. I guess I would call it profound disappointment with the world and people in general. Most people can get past their disappointment within seconds. I am married to one of those people. Most times, its a blessing that my husband is so resilient. Sometimes, it feels like a curse. I, however, hang on to disappointment for much longer than I should which has probably impacted my demeanor. I've never been a smiler and I've never been overly or overtly enthusiastic about many things. But, within the past few years it seems that there are fewer and fewer things to smile or become enthusiastic about. It seems as though, there are more things to become disappointed and jaded about.

Are these feelings rooted in idealism as the definition states? I don't know. I don't think it is idealistic to wish that people would be nice to each other. I don't think that it is idealistic to expect other human beings to be treated fairly and respectfully without having to give some of us "ethics training" like the military proposes to do with those soldiers in Iraq. Why should someone have to tell you not to kill innocent people???? Is this being idealistic? Expecting people to do the right thing and just use plain common sense?

This was the same argument that I was given when I engaged one of my legal professors in a discussion about the ills of the plea bargain system. I was told that it is just not realistic to expect that every case go to trial, the backlog would be astronomical. This is a fact that I can accept but cases are often plea bargained simply because the prosecution or the defense don't want to lose so let's sacrifice the alleged offender to save our own hide. A 12 year old boy was conned into a plea bargain because an adult got him to admit that if he were to be prosecuted it would likely result in his conviction. What? Isn't that for a jury to decide? Who can argue that that practice is wrong wrong wrong! Yes, plea bargains are a necessary evil but do it for the right reasons!. Yes, war is hell, but it is no excuse to kill innocent (relatively) people!