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Coffee Woes

Birkin coffee

Ms. HalfEmpty at Birkin, her favorite coffee shop in Buenos Aires.

Those of you who know me know that I love coffee. Even this blog was inspired by a coffee mug! In 2011, I embarked on a Quest for Passion and discovered that my passions are coffee and napping. Undoubtedly, coffee is an important part of my life.

Mr. HalfFull and I received the Keurig B70 Platinum Brewing System as a wedding gift six years ago.  The Keurig made coffee quick and easy. I never had to measure water, and Mr. HalfFull could have his weak brew, while I enjoyed my concentrated java.

I know there are a lot of people who poo-poo the Keurig and are infuriated by the amount of waste caused by K-Cups. But I rarely used K-Cups. Instead, I ground whole beans and packed my own reusable pod. The Keurig machine was merely an automated way to quickly get hot water in the correct quantity.

Death of the Keurig

On a recent morning when I turned to my trusty Keurig for my morning coffee, it was dead. The LCD display was blank; not even the time greeted me. I tried other outlets to no avail. The Keurig was a goner.

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The Intersection of Theater, Professional Wrestling, and Life

Woolly Mammoth Theater Company

Woolly Mammoth Theater Company is constantly pushing boundaries to defy convention

Years ago, I started volunteering at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company as an usher.  I had seen a few of their plays and was mesmerized.  I wanted to see them all!

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I’m into theater.  I even saw 6 plays last summer while I was traveling around the world with Mr. HalfFull on our 30/40 World Tour.

This summer, I joined Woolly’s Claque.  You may be asking, “What the heck is a claque?”  In classical times, a claque was a group of people hired to applaud the performers in French theaters and opera houses.  But our claque at Woolly is so much more.  First of all, we are unpaid volunteers.  Secondly, we are a group of highly engaged audience members who do more than applaud at the actual performance.  Before the first rehearsal, we spend time reading the play together as a group, discuss the themes of the play, and communicate our ideas for audience design.  We are also involved in Working Groups specific to each play.

Mace & Chad Diety

Mace, the main character, speaks as Chad Diety, a fellow wrestler in THE Wrestling, shows of his winning smile and championship belt.

This season, my Working Group was focused on the season opener, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety.  The show focuses on the world of professional wrestling, but it’s about so much more.  I have no interest in wrestling, and would never watch it on TV.  But this play moved me.  In fact, I got chills when the main character delivered his final monologue in Act II on Opening Night.

Please visit the Woolly Mammoth Blog to read my post about The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety.  Find out how this play relates to the rest of us who are not wrestling fans.

  • Do you enjoy live theater?
  • Do you watch professional wrestling?
  • Have you ever been surprisingly moved by a play, movie, book, etc. when the original topic was unappealing?

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The Countdown Begins

Ms. Butter is my good friend from college.  [She earned this name by consuming copious amounts of REAL butter in the dining hall and professing its health benefits.  Julia Child would approve.  My little brother had only met her once, but whenever I spoke of her by name, he would confirm, “Do you mean the butter girl?”]  Unfortunately, I don’t see her very often since she lives hours away, but we do communicate regularly via Twitter and email.  Recently, she asked me if I had a countdown going for my 30/40 World Tour: Quest for Passion.  Um…why do I need a countdown?  I have a calendar.

Ms. Butter suggested that I make a paper chain for my countdown, but I was definitely not sold on the idea.  I’d heard of and seen paper chains before, but never for a countdown.  I thought they were just for kids to decorate schools.  But Ms. Butter explained that her family always created paper chains at the beginning of December, and made a paper ring for each day left until Christmas. Then every day they would remove another ring, and as the chain got shorter, she had a great visual of how much closer it was until Christmas.

Hum…ok, I get the idea, but is this really something I need to do?  Who has time to cut strips of paper and assemble them into a chain?  Where would I put such a thing?  What if I forgot to remove a chain one day and lost count?  Do I really need another project or to-do item?  Why would I spend the time to create something if I was just going to rip it up in the end?  I was definitely half empty on this project.

strips of paper

Strips of paper cut from an old map

Despite my negativity, Ms. Butter was persistent…

Ahh, I think a paper chain is in order. 🙂  This is totally good fodder for your blog!  There is the whole question of whether you are going to view its getting shorter with each passing day as “ruining all your work” (half empty), or… getting you closer to the REAL and exciting goal of going on the trip (half full)!

Ms. Butter checks the calendar

Ms. Butter counts the days on the calendar (after we finished the bottle of wine)

Ms. Butter and her husband were in town last week and joined us for tapas and paper chain making.  Ms. Butter had previously cut strips of paper from an old topographic map.  (Coincidentally, it was a map she got from our college and had saved all this time to bring full circle!)  I found myself starting to get excited about the project after seeing the multicolor paper strips from a map.  How perfect for a travel countdown!  Perhaps this wasn’t as bad as anticipated.

Ms. Butter links the first two paper strips together

Ms. Butter links the first two strips of paper together to start the paper chain

To make sure the paper chain was completely accurate, we broke out the calendar and Ms. Butter began to count the days.  Of course, I asked her what would happen if I couldn’t remember if I had removed a link or not.  She knows me well and was already armed with an answer — that I would write the actual date on the inside of each link.

Paper Chain

The paper chain grows longer

So we started our assembly line with me writing dates on the back and Ms. Butter linking the strips together with tape.  We had an efficient system and the chain began to grow longer until it was finished.

Complete Paper Chain

Finished paper chain displayed on top of our world tour map

I found the perfect spot for the paper chain — on top of the world map tacked to our bulletin board.  We originally posted the map to help us plan our trip and it now has tacks for all our trip destinations, as well as ribbon to connect the various legs.

Each morning as I leave for work, I remove a link from the right side of the chain.  I randomly hung up the paper chain as I was holding it and didn’t realize the earlier dates (remember that I wrote the actual date on each ring) were on the right side.  At first this bothered me since our world moves from left to right.  But as I thought about it’s placement on the actual map it made a lot of sense for the flow of our westward trip.  Right now, in the early part of my countdown, I’m on the right side of the map with the early trip destinations.  By the time the countdown is done, I will have moved through the whole map and all the destinations to be back in the US to start the actual trip!

One of my concerns with the paper chain was destroying it after all the work that went into fashioning it.  Mr. HalfFull already pokes fun at me for the way I open wrapped presents, carefully removing each piece of tape at the seams.  He and Ms. Butter joked that I’d probably undo each link delicately at the seam and maybe even preserve them in a box.  But after using Ms. Butter’s cool tape gun, we realized that the paper was too stiff and thick to be held in place by a small piece of tape on the inside.  So Ms. Butter started using tape all the way around each ring to make sure it stayed intact.  This had the added benefit of forcing me to actually rip each ring off.  It wouldn’t be so easy to daintily unroll each ring.

At one point while writing the dates on each paper strip, I got distracted and wrote the wrong month.  So I had to scribble out what I had written.  Ms. Butter made me save this one for a test run.  So I put the current date on it and she added it to the chain.  My first test was to rip it off and discard it as a half full thinker moving toward a goal.  I did rip it and throw it out.  But that was pretty easy since I had already messed it up.  I’m not sure if I’m half full on the countdown since the chain is starting to make me nervous about having fewer days to plan and prepare.  But I became half full on the project, probably because of Ms. Butter.  Lesson learned:  butter fills you up. =)

  • Have you ever used a paper chain as a countdown?
  • Do countdowns make time pass faster or slower?
  • Are countdowns more useful for adults or children?
  • How do you open presents?

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