find balance

In an epic tug of war, team foes (Dark, Left, No, Bad, & Down) are locked in perpetual battle with team fiends (Light, Right, Yes, Good, & Up). Neither team has a true advantage in this fight as the question is unasked, so a tension hangs in the air thick as a Savannah afternoon's air.  In this fight between foes and fiends, there can be no middle ground, no half-victory.

Thankfully, that is not true of all of life. Coffee doesn't come only as I order it (black), but it can be adulterated to include all manner of things such as sweeteners, flavors, and even things that alter its appearance as in the case of cream (as my wife would order it). In fact, it seems that very few options I am met with in real require hard and fast answers, and for that I am thankful.

In the time that I've been working at my present job, it has been a challenge for my to find a balance on several levels. What time should I get up and go to work, and do I carpool with my wife or just leave when I'm ready? How should I devote my time: minor maintenance or major innovation? How should I react to the behaviors of coworkers that I find annoying or unprofessional? Should I pack my lunch or go out in hopes of being part of the team?

I go back and forth on that last one, perhaps more than any other. The folks I work with have generally been with the organization for many times longer than I have, and they have lives that intersect outside of the workplace (although I don't know if work-life bled to lived-life or if those circles already overlapped). But joining up with them means going out to eat, often in places that don't have great choices, and I honestly don't make the best food choices.

Every week or two, I try and specifically make plans to pack several consecutive days to strive for a bit of balance. When possible, I align these days to those when I know my compatriots will have other plans because of meetings, standing engagements, or such. but it doesn't always work out that way. Usually it means I head to the grocery store, grabbing some bread, meat, and cheese, and probably a little fruit. Frequently these things just get assembled, wrapped in plastic wrap, and stuffed in my backpack where they languish without refrigeration until my coworkers are at lunch.

This week I didn't make the trip to the grocery store, but I did have some left-over brioche that we had purchased to make French Toast over the weekend (planning to make it twice, but only executing once). Along with some peanut butter and jelly, I executed a beautiful PB&J at my desk. I even managed to find balance with my sandwich!

Two slices of brioche, left with strawberry, right with concord grape.

There are obviously many places I'm seeking balance in life: rest, exercise, socialization, entertainment, spending, family... the list really goes on for quite some time. But it is a process, one that doesn't seem to have an end in sight. I'll see over time if perhaps the balance becomes more natural, but I imagine that I'll find that enough things in this world vie for my time that I'll have to make choices, and they won't always be balanced ones.


grind coffee without electricity

In similar fashion to yesterday, this I just want to be sure to point out that while this is sort of a product review, it is really a post for my own remembrance, and that no one asked me to write this--heck they might not be happy if they had!

I purchased the ROK Coffee Grinder to go along with my ROK Espresso maker, and I am very pleased with the pairing. 

The grinder itself is a little larger than I anticipated when ordering it, but in retrospect I don't think it could provide the same experience if it were much smaller, and I'm quite happy. The solid metal construction is really a thing of beauty on my countertop, even when it's not in action. 

The grinder's output is consistent across the levels of coarseness, and I've made great espresso, pour-over and french press with surprisingly little fuss. It took a little getting used to the adjustment ring in its default configuration (stepless) and that was compounded by the fact that the ring rotates when the handle does, so I made a practice to rotating it to certain position before making adjustments. ROK also facilitated a stepped grind selection with a pair of removable washers. I have changed to the stepped selection as I feel that the stepless method allows for a slight drift of coarseness over the process of grinding.

The base of the ROK Coffee Grinder has a wonderfully tacky substance requiring only minimal downforce to hold the grinder in place during operation. The unbranded rear-edge of the base is about an inch and a half deeper than the front, something I surmise was done to add stability while rotating the long handle.

I did experience a large amount of static build-up the first couple of times I used the machine and it made both the process of getting the grounds and clean-up maddeningly difficult. I located a YouTube video from ROKEspressoMaker titled "dealing with static" and while I was dubious about the claim, adding a drop or three of water to the beans in the hopper actually substantially changed the experience for the better.

The included grounds cup is very nicely styled and useful, but I do wish it had a slightly narrower curvature to match the ROK portafiler's profile (because it's quite a bit larger, I have often spilled more of my grounds than I'd like while loading). When making more coarsely ground coffee, it works wonderfully.

The ROK Coffee Grinder is a great addition to my kitchen that is pleasingly functional, and undeniably attractive.

From left to right: ROK Manual coffee grinder, ROK Espresso Maker storage tin, ROK milk frother, scoop & tamper, ROK Espresso maker.


make my own espresso

This particular post is a review of a recently purchased coffee maker, the ROK Espresso maker. This is an item that I researched and purchased on my own, and is not something someone told me I should purchase or review. It is partly notes to myself, and partly because I felt like it had been too long since I wrote anything.