Mar 4 2016

Special trip

Adel Gabot

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3:26PM

I had to make my annual special trip to Greenhills this morning to get another batch of Aeropress micro-filters.

I had run out of filters again, and I have to buy some every year. So I had to make a specific run to Virra Mall, where a computer repair shop on the third floor sells Aeropresses and supplies right over the counter. Yeah, I think it’s weird they do that too, but what can can you do? I’m just grateful they sell ’em.

I think it’s the only place you can get Aeropress stuff in the country without going online and ordering them and waiting for a month for delivery. I could buy a couple of packs of filters, or even three or four, but I’m stingy that way. Besides, who knows where I’ll be in a year or two. You never really know.

Each packet is composed of 350 individual filters, and considering I use one filter every single morning for my breakfast when I squeeze out an espresso on my Aeropress, that turns out to, almost precisely, a year’s supply. (This is not, mind you, counting the other cups of brew I have during my day that I purchase, usually from Starbucks, and contributing to my java count.) Considering a packet costs P350, it comes out to a peso a filter exactly. And I run out of filters almost exactly in a year.

It’s become a routine in the mornings, really. When I wake up, I use the electric pot to boil water for a fresh cup, and while it’s heating up I prepare the Aeropress: put a filter in the contraption, put a scoop of coffee grind in it, put it on top of an empty mug, pour boiling water in it, carefully stir it for precisely eight seconds, then press myself a cup of coffee. Then I take the Aeropress apart, throw out the used filter and grinds, rinse it all under the faucet and put it away for the next morning. Then I take the brewed coffee, plop a teaspoon of brown sugar in it, and enjoy it with my breakfast. I do this every morning.

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The Aeropress is a wonderful invention; nice, simple and uncomplicated, not like other fancy brewers that require a small fortune to purchase and a doctorate to work. And it makes a kickass espresso. Just like a French press, but simpler, and without the big mess. Makes coffee that’s strong and black, without fuss or French horns.

I discovered a perfect, potent Barako grind that goes perfect with the Aeropress and I’ve stuck with it ever since. It’s been 10 years, and I’m still buying it. And this is my second Aeropress.

No one in my immediate family seems to care about coffee as much as I do (not even when I was married), so I find it a solitary practice making my daily espresso. Dad just makes an instant cup of coffee from a 3-in-1 packet every morning, and doesn’t seem to care one way or the other. As long as he has his Sudoku puzzle that comes with the paper, he’s fine.

But for me, it’s sort of a religious practice.

Us caffeine addicts are wackos.

coffee–mug

 


Feb 24 2016

Gorey as hell

Adel Gabot

11:00AM

I was struck by this sudden avalanche of tweets, tributes, blog posts and general brouhaha about Edward Gorey, the prolific artist and illustrator, yesterday when I belatedly realized it was the 16th anniversary of his passing. People were just honoring the man by mentioning him and showing samples of his best work.

Gorey had a profound and massive influence on me, and colored a great deal of who I am and what I like to write about. Because as a kid I’d stumbled upon a big old book in the UP Elementary School Library composed of spooky, eerie children’s stories that he had illustrated. I was in 5th Grade back then, and was in a very malleable formative state. Finding this book at that age was fortuitous.

Each story was fronted by a full-page plate of a pen-and-ink sketch, and the illustrations captured my imagination more than the actual stories, which, in retrospect, were simple and childish tales that paled in comparison to the pictures that accompanied them. There were at least two dozen of them in that book. Man.

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Aside from thoroughly creeping out this lonely young boy who sought solace from grade-school madness in the school library during breaks, his wordless and weird, black and white style would stay with me for the rest of my years, informing my likes and dislikes, and forming my baseline grid of what was visually scary.

The staid, angular, sinister yet somehow… regal looks of his characters and creatures spoke volumes to me. The cross-hatching and black shadings of his pen, the weird, wordless silence of his work, the inscrutable monsters and quiet and creepy people in his illustrations in that book simultaneously chilled and delighted me, and Gorey’s work to this day evokes the same emotions, whenever I come across it.

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I can’t remember exactly the name of the book and its author(s) in that library, much less the exact stories and illustrations, but it will always stay with me as a seminal influence, as will Edward Gorey’s body of work.

God bless you, Mr. Gorey, wherever you are.

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Feb 19 2016

Mechanical keyboard redux, et al

Adel Gabot

3:42PM

I was watching the latest MacBreak Weekly podcast on my new Apple TV this morning, and one of the commentators, Andy Ihnatko, was showing off his pick (at the end of every show each of them gives their Picks of The Week, whether it be Apple gear, an app, a handy accessory or even a software or hardware tip), and it was a new mechanical desktop keyboard.

It featured Cherry mechanical switches and a host of other configurable features, and Andy talked about how he loved to use it, so much so that he’s taken to working at his desktop in his home office first thing in the morning, eschewing his laptop in bed, just to be able to use it.

He loved the noise, the clacking, and the mechanical feel so much he looked for reasons and excuses to be able to use the keyboard. Exactly how I feel!

I’ve been using an ancient IBM Model M keyboard, that old dinosaur that was old when Apple IIs were young, for over a year now, and I’ve put away the compact bluetooth keyboard that came with my iMac forever. Yes, it’s damned noisy, but I’ve gotten used to it, and have grown to love that clack-clack-clack. I’ve gotten so used to it I’d even forgotten it makes that much noise, and it took Ihnatko to remind me why I loved it so, even if it barely fits on the keyboard shelf of my computer desk.

Coincidentally, someone in my user group (PhilMUG) actually wrote to me earlier in the week, and he came across some of my old keyboard posts and was asking me if I still had any left for sale. At one time I actually had three Model Ms. I sold one online, and am using another on my the iMac. The third is a write-off: it’s missing a couple of keys, and another couple aren’t functioning; it was poorly maintained when I got it, and it showed. Had to extend my regrets.

But I love love love the one I have.

Nice to be reminded of it.

*

I did a bit of rearranging in my room: I put in a small cabinet right beside the iMac where I now keep my electronic whatsits for easy access, and put the detritus I usually keep on my computer desk on top of it, clearing the table. I also bought a corkboard which I attached to the wall above the cabinet, and got a notepad and some pushpins so I could tack up reminders to myself and see them instantly.

I also re-angled my iMac to face the corner where all this stuff is, instead of being aligned to the wall, so my workarea has been altered somewhat. It feels new and different a bit, and is a welcome change.

*

I’m thinking of purchasing a new servomotor-driven Automatic Voltage Regulator again (now that I can afford one again). A modest 1500-watt regulator should be enough; a bigger one is too expensive. There’s a 1500-watt servomotor Akari AVR selling in SM for a little over P3.2K, and I’m considering buying one.

I only have my (configured-to-the-max) 27″ iMac, two powered external drives, a powered USB hub, a table lamp and a fan to power up on the 220V side (that should all take up about 800-1000 watts), and on the entertainment side of things, a big flatscreen, a soundbar, a DVD player and the Apple TV. On the 110V side, the PS4 and the Dualshock Charging Station, although I think I should just leave those well enough alone, they’re the only 110V gadgets in the house.

But I’m still thinking about it though. I’ve survived all these years without an AVR, why would I need one now? (Then again, if had one before, I might still have my 3rd gen Apple TV and the RCA Digital Tuners. I don’t know about the ATV, but I’m sure the tuners got fried by a bolt of lightning. Oh, well.)

*

On the tragic side of things, my Uncle Ating passed away yesterday. His daughter called us up to tell us.

He’s the husband of my dad’s oldest sister, Auntie Salud; he just turned 90 last year. We were marveling then how old they’d all gotten, and wondered idly when they’d pass. Now we know.

Uncle Ating was a prominent lawyer in his day in Agoo, La Union. When we were kids we used to vacation in Agoo at their family’s house near the beach, where we used to play with their kids, my cousins Pepe, Manny and Ciony.

His remains lie in state in Agoo, and we’re working out how and when to go pay our respects.

Rest well, Uncle. You’ll be sorely missed.


Feb 15 2016

Another birthday

Adel Gabot

8:09AM

54.

I turn 54 today.

Sheesh. I guess I should stop counting already. Pretty soon it’ll be 60, then 70, and who knows from there. Although I seriously don’t think I’d actually get that far.

It’ll be a quiet day today, as I try to fold into myself and not make any fuss. I just want this day to be over, really.

See you guys tomorrow.


Dec 30 2015

My left foot

Adel Gabot

3:30PM

Since Monday morning, my left foot has been acting up.

It was painful, as if I had banged my big toe on something really hard. Yet I hadn’t, and I think I would recall something that momentous happening to an appendage. In fact I don’t remember doing anything to it, save for, admittedly, a slightly vigorous and aggressive cleaning and toenail clipping Sunday morning, the day before.

By the evening, it had worsened enough for me to make me hobble when I walked, and by the time I went to sleep, it had settled into a deep and probing ache, which worsened when I put any weight onto the foot. I supposed it was just one of those things, and would clear up the next morning.

Tuesday morning it had become much worse. I literally couldn’t walk. Any pressure on it gave me tremendous pain. Even the leather material of my slip-on slippers touching the front part of my foot (the big toe and the surrounding area) made me cringe in pain. I had to cancel a lunch date with my daughter because of it and postpone it for the weekend.

My foot certainly didn’t look any different. There was no swelling or anything, at least until towards the afternoon when it started to look a bit reddish in bright light, seemed to be a little warmer than usual and seemed to have swelled a bit, but I had to look real hard to notice. Then again it could have been my imagination.

But the pain was real. Man oh man, it really was.

I had trouble going down to the dining room for lunch and dinner, hobbling slowly along and mewling with pain like an old man with a war wound. It pulsed hotly and painfully with my heartbeat when I stood up straight, and I had to raise my foot to my computer chair when I sat down to ease the pressure and alleviate the pain.

My daughter had asked if I wanted to see a doctor for it, and I laughed and told her of course not. It’ll sort itself out in a few days. But privately, I wasn’t so sure anymore. Seeing a doctor might be a good idea after all.

But this morning, it seemed a little better, and by lunchtime it had improved noticeably. Now, as we approach evening, it seems tremendously better and was merely a nuisance, as compared to the debilitating condition that required me to lie motionless in bed for most of the day before. At this rate, it should be fine by tomorrow, and I could go do my normal activities.

What the hell was that all about, I ask?

Damn, getting old is such a pain.