Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Foolproof Coffeemaker (Isn't)

Coffee, one of man's greatest discoveries.  I have had a cup of Joe every morning before heading to work for many years now, but a few months ago I decided to take my coffee habit into the office with a small coffee making device.  Using only this piece of plastic, which holds the filter, plus of course a filter and coffee grounds, hot water and gravity, I can make one cup of caffeinated bliss.  Of course, this low-tech solution soon brought me the derision of some coworkers, but I stood by its utility.  Eventually, though, even I had to admit that it was not as classy as the more well-known one cup coffee system.  Unfortunately, I don't rate having a secretary (the original one cup of coffee system), but I can afford a Keurig, so I went with that upgrade for my desk.

For those of you not familiar with this particular technological marvel, you simply open a hatch, put in a "k-cup" (pre-measured with coffee, sealed until use, and ridiculously expensive per serving compared to just buying grounds and filters) and hit a button.  A minute later, you have a cup of coffee   Unless you forgot to put your mug under the spout, then you have a wet, messy, albeit delicious smelling desk.

For those of us that are cheap, there is another option called "my k-cup".  it is a plastic device that holds a small reusable filter, allowing you to fill it with coffee grounds yourself.  The entire thing has a screw on lid, which you attach prior to placing it in the Keurig where the k-cup goes.  Of course, this thing is bigger than a k-cup so you have to remove another plastic piece that normally holds the k-cup in place.  Before you use another k-cup you must replace this piece, or else the k-cup will sit in the coffee maker, but the water will not properly pass through the k-cup, but will instead end up squirting all over the coffee maker.

I know this, because I made that mistake last week.  I'm sure my boss and coworkers were all amused listening to my reaction when I turned around from the whiteboard where I had been working , expecting to find a fresh cup of coffee, but instead finding a big mess.  It went something like this "What the....(opening lid to see if there is any indication what went wrong, realizing I didn't put the k-cup holder back in) AAAARGH!!!  I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!  I bring in some cream from home, and instead of making some delicious coffee I forget to put the piece in?!  You've got to be kidding me!!!"  I quickly calmed down, and made myself a cup of coffee the right way once I had cleaned up my mess.

Needless to say, later on when one of the guys I work with made a mistake with the copy machine he got a bit distraught, then told me he had "pulled a Morrell".  "What did you do?" I asked, assuming he would relate what mistake he had made.  "Something stupid" he said.  "Oh, wait, I didn't mean it that way".  I let him know that I knew what he meant, and hadn't taken it the wrong way, although I appreciated him putting 2 and 2 together for me, as I hadn't made the connection between the obvious secondary meaning and what he was really trying to convey.  Hopefully my name doesn't become associated with making laughable errors in the workplace.  If so, I wonder if I can get that copyrighted.  Let me make some coffee and think on that one a while...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Letter From Mom

Last week we deactivated our lousy Cricket cell service, and had our number moved from our Cricket phone to our backup Tracphone cell.  We assumed this transfer would be seamless, but after our old number was deactivated we learned that our phone would be inoperable until we received a new sim card to use the new number.  This left us without any phone service for a couple of days, which really isn't a big deal, because almost nobody calls us anyway.

As fate would have it, my mom decided to call us and was aggravated to learn that our number was disconnected.  This week I got the following letter in the mail:

Brad and Heather,
You need to call and let us (the parents) know a ph # that works.  The number you text is not yours.  I called Larry and he doesn't have it either.  Please Call.  Love Mom.  PS. Cards beat Nationals and are now playing the Giants and they are on Fox.

Of course by the time I got this letter we had already reactivated our phone, but I was really tempted to send mom the following letter:

Dear Mom,
We inadvertently disconnected our phone for a couple of days.  Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.  PS. I know my brother Jerry works for the Post Office, but I think it's a bit overly optimistic to think I will get a letter from you before a baseball game you are watching is over.  Thanks for the heads up though.
Your Son.

I guess on the bright side it was kind of nice to get a letter in the mail, although when I got an envelope from mom I was kind of hoping it was an early Birthday check.  Maybe next time.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Who's Your Soccer Mama?

It's been a physical fitness couple of weeks for me.  First there was Wingman Day, a day where the Air Force takes some down time to contemplate taking care of ourselves and each other.  It was decided that we should have a competition between the offices at work, and each section had to field a team.  I didn't really want to participate, since I had my annual PT test coming up the following week, but decided running one leg of the 4 x 100 wouldn't kill me.  Then one of our guys claimed a bum foot, so I ended up running the first and last leg, which wouldn't have been so bad but the track was an asphalt lane around a softball field that dropped about 30 ft in elevation for the first half, then left you climbing back up on the back half.  Doing that twice at a near sprint is not as easy as it sounds, and it really doesn't sound that easy.  Throw in some lunges in a later competition and my legs were pretty used up.

The following week was my PT test - pushups, situps, and a 1.5 mile run.  I like running with music but I haven't been using my iPod during my speed work to prepare for the test, and I figured it was best to test as I trained, so I reluctantly left the music behind.  We got up to the starting line and took off.  The track is a meandering course that is 1.5 miles in length, which I prefer to running in circles around a quarter mile oval track.  And with my GPS watch, I am able to track time, distance, current and average pace.  That is, once I hit the start button.  Apparently I didn't press the button hard enough when we took off, because when I glanced down to see what my pace was it registered zero.  By the time I figured out what had happened it was too late to help me, so I was left running blind as far as keeping my pace goes.  It was quite aggravating, although I did make my goal time.  If I wasn't going to do my regular routine I guess I could have brought my music after all.

The following day we started a new initiative here to do PT as a group on Thursday afternoons.  If you've never played soccer, it's pretty tiring and really can make you sore, due to the sudden starting, stopping, and shifts in direction.  Doing this the day after my PT test certainly sent me a friendly reminder of the fact I'm not getting any younger.  I've been hobbling around the last couple of days while bruises, cuts, blisters and stiff muscles slowly recover.  On the bright side, not only did I score a couple of goals, but more importantly, I was able to steal the ball from our British exchange officer once.  Not only is he about 6 foot 6, but more importantly, he's British!  Beating him head to head at soccer was like showing up Eminem at a rapping duel.  Even if it did only happen once, it was the highlight of my week.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Blast From My Past

Yesterday I excitedly opened a brown package that arrived in the mail.  Inside was a book that I ordered last week on Amazon.  In preparation for my Mom’s visit last week I had been unpacking some boxes, and came across my childhood book collection, or at least the portion that I have in my possession.  Having two brothers many of the books that I read as a child and considered part of the Morrell library belonged to my brothers, so many a familiar book is now in their possession.  Being a bookworm I read every book in our house multiple times.  From “The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes” to Steinbeck’s “The Pearl”, if it was made of paper and didn't have legs to run away, it found its way into my grubby little hands.  And I mean that literally – when I was young I refused to bathe more than every other day, and I had quite petite hands, even for a child. 

As I was reminiscing and leafing through old classics I read and reread as a boy, I noticed that one of my favorite books, one that had actually been my own and not my brothers’, was missing.  I couldn't remember the name of it, but it was one of those books where you make decisions throughout the book which leads to glory or destruction, depending on your choice.  The original and best known series of this type was called “Choose Your Own Adventure”, but when I did a web search for “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, I was unsuccessful at finding this favorite of mine.  I know because although I couldn't remember the title, I do remember that this particular book had a spaceship with a large grey spider on the cover.

I told my mom about this and she called my brother Steve, who relayed that it was probably a “Which Way Book” (apparently he had tried to track one down as well, and got that information from a librarian), so I put that into my search and there it was: “Space Raiders and the Planet of Doom”.  I still remember getting that book and reading it in the gym when I was in the fourth grade.  I made it through several pages before it was time to go to class, and couldn’t wait to get home to finish the story.  I still remember landing the spaceship on the planet, covered with such a thick fog that there was no telling what was below, or if a landing was even possible!

So this week I have enjoyed going back through the book and choosing my way along the various story lines again.  I think I’m doing a better job this time around making choices that don’t end in my death.  Perhaps somewhere subconsciously I remember to not eat the giant mushrooms.  Or maybe I’m just a lot better at making good decisions at 37 than I was at 9.  Whatever the case, it was totally worth the seven bucks it cost me to purchase this little piece of my childhood!