I love my coffee maker; it brews a refreshingly hot pot of coffee and then keeps it hot in the thermal carafe for hours.
I hate my coffee maker; it doesn’t consistently brew a refreshingly hot pot of coffee which then means I need to finish the process manually by pouring the rest of the hot water into the grounds basket.
Gina and I love our coffee. We drink big cups of coffee. I have a morning ritual that I’ve followed pretty consistently since we’ve married. Every morning I get up and brew a fresh pot of coffee, I pour Gina a cup and deliver it to her beside to help her wake up. Then I pour myself a cup and the day begins.
Coffee, then adulting.
We are on our fourth coffee maker in 8 years. The first one was manufactured by Braun and was less than memorable. The second was a Cuisinart coffee maker that ground the beans and brewed the coffee. It had a thermal carafe as well, so the pot stayed hot and didn’t get bitter. It only made ten cups though, and so we didn’t have two of our big cups each out of a pot. Then the grinder threw a blade, and it failed shortly after.
Our next pot was a pretty simple item, no fancy grinder built in and no thermal carafe; it just brewed coffee. But the pot was, again, only ten cups and the coffee would get bitter sitting in the pot on the heating element, undrinkable shortly after being brewed.
We also have one of those electric hot water pots.
The ladies like an occasional hot tea and the electric pot is quicker than the pot on the stove. You’ll understand why I mention this in a few moments.
Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks?
– Steven Wright
A few months ago, Gina and I were In Williams Sonoma. They were having a sale, and one of the tables had cooking implements on sale. One of the boxes was the OXO Barista Brain 12 – cup brewing system.
This thing was huge! Well, huge relatively speaking to our other coffee makers. It was also on sale! This machine usually sells for almost $300, and it was ours for only $100. Of course, the first question was, “Does it work?” The salesperson assured us that it did indeed work and we were sold, what a bargain! We also picked up a Sous Vide machine, but that’s for another post.
We brought it home and cleared away the old coffee maker. There was no ceremony, no words of regret or acknowledgments of fine service, just relegation. The hot water pot was relegated as well; this machine can do BOTH! Plugged it in, scanned the owner’s manual briefly and brewed our first pot to test it out. Heaven!
It was like this for a couple of days, and then IT happened. I set up the brew, started it and away I went to do other morning tasks. When I returned, it was only half done!
Even worse there was a red indicator on the control screen, what the heck does that mean? Fortunately, the manual was handy, and this time I looked it over a little more closely. Oh, that little red symbol tells me it needs descaling! Simple enough, ran a pot of diluted white vinegar through it later that day and flushed it out with fresh water.
Next morning the same thing!?! Now I am getting a little miffed. Thought it was time to return this beast, maybe the previous owner had the same problem, we have a bum machine.
Not one to give up quite so quick I did what many do today, go to the internet for answers. I searched and sure enough, found an answer. Living here in the Las Vegas area, we are at an altitude of about 2,000 feet. Water boils at a lower temperature at higher altitudes, and there is a setting for the Barista Brain to take this into account. Back to the owner’s manual and sure enough there are the instructions for setting the correct temperature for the higher altitude. Well now, we should be good to go!
Next morning success! It worked fine. I was full of myself for having solved the problem, and more importantly, I didn’t have to return the coffee maker. But I was premature, it only lasted for two days, and then the dreaded “Descaling” indicator was back along with a half-brewed pot of coffee. This was becoming a little frustrating. Ran some cleaner through the pot, rinsed it and set up for the next day.
Next morning failure once again and I’m pretty much done. It didn’t even get started this time, it heated the water to boiling and then just sat there. There’s nothing but hot water and a keen desire for a hot cup of coffee for Gina and myself. I flip open the basket holding the grounds and start pouring the hot water in to brew our coffee accompanied by muttered expletives.
What could be the problem? Why does it sometimes work, other times only partially and then other times it doesn’t even begin to move the water? I look at the heating pot and notice the small grate in the bottom. Ah, that must be where the water gets sucked in by the pump! The next morning, I set up the brew, and sure enough, it doesn’t start. So, I give the pot a little rap with my knuckle where I suspect the pump sits, and it starts to pump! But only for a little while, then it stops. Another rap and we are off again.
More cleanings have had little effect on the maker working any better; it is what it is. So, the morning routine now includes that occasional rap on the coffee machine to either start or keep the hot water flowing. It can be annoying, but when I think about other things this is minor, I’ll live with it for now.
The review; I love the machine and maybe, just maybe it would have worked wonderfully out of the box if it was brand new when we picked it up. There’s no way of knowing for sure unless we purchased another, but it looks like OXO is not making the 12-cup size any longer, they only have the 9-cup on their website now, but you can still buy them from Williams Sonoma, Amazon and other online retailers. To be honest, I’m not sure I would buy it again. The machine was in new condition when we purchased it, any previous owner would have had it only briefly, and if the little pump inside the base was this prone to intermittent failure, it should have gone back to the manufacturer. Maybe this one was a fluke; I didn’t see much in the way of negative reviews on the internet, but I wouldn’t give it a firm recommendation.
Yuck. Yuck! It’s terrible and wonderful at the same time! It’s like freedom in a cup!
– Elliot, Open Season
But I do have a dream about what our next machine will be.
One of the things that I enjoy, and thus will be writing about is good liquor. To be honest, the majority of my imbibing in the past has been of the mixed drink variety. It’s the typical avenue for most people out there who want to enjoy liquor but don’t want to deal with the harshness or base taste of the liquor. Put something else in the drink to make it a little more palatable and pass me the glass!
I’ve wanted to broaden my knowledge of liquors for quite some time, and yes, I do occasionally partake of something “neat,” but it’s rare and what would be a good liquor to drink by itself? A friend of mine was a single malt whiskey lover and had quite the collection. He enjoyed his single malts and, to my knowledge, never used them in a mixed drink. Always neat.
If you are going to walk into a bar, you should have an idea of what you may like to drink. Am I going to have a mixed drink or something solo? Do I want the solo liquor neat or straight up? Some liquors are not distilled for solo enjoyment, most of what the bartender has behind the bar, for regular pours, are downright awful by themselves. But what they have on display behind the bar may be just as bad solo as what they use for a regular pour. How do you know what liquor you might like to drink solo? You can spend quite a bit of cash and get seriously drunk visiting the local bar and sampling what’s on the shelf.
Now there are alternatives to this thanks to the internet and some forward-thinking individuals, enter the alcohol subscription box. Now there are companies that offer alcohol subscription boxes for you to try different types of liquors. The majority of these offerings are of the mixed drink variety though; you get a monthly box with a quality liquor or two, the appropriate mixers and additional ingredients to put together a mixed drink from the recipe provided. I tried one of these subscription services for a few months but was not satisfied with what I received; I was going in a different direction.
Then I came across Flaviar. Flaviar is a quarterly membership that provides you one tasting box per quarter and free shipping on one bottle per month. Their membership is not cheap at $60 a quarter and from what I found this was a recent change in their membership structure; it used to be $40 a month, and you received five sample bottles in the box instead of three. The sample bottles are 1.5 oz each, so you get a large pour per bottle essentially. More on this a little later. There are other perks though; they have the free shipping per month for a single bottle purchase or if you purchase one of the other sample packs, and I liked the amount of information found on the website and in the sample packs.
My introductory “Welcome Box” contained three different whiskeys, bourbon, rye, and scotch.
The bottles were labeled A-C so that you could conduct a blind taste test, but since we were dealing with three different types of whiskeys it didn’t matter to me. There was a lift up tab at the top of the cylinder with a clay coaster on the very top and under that three paper coasters with the name of the distillery on one side and a tasting spiral on the other. The lift up tab had links on one side for how to taste spirits and how to organize a tasting with a link on the other for more details about the particular tasting box.
Gina and I set up our little taste test on the kitchen table.
Previously I had mentioned the size of the samples, 1.5 oz. For me, splitting this with Gina was enough liquor to get a good taste and evaluate the liquor. So off we go!
The first sample from the box was the Breckenridge Bourbon from the Breckenridge Distillery in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. They bill themselves as “The World’s Highest Distillery,” and this particular bourbon is one of their best sellers.
Both of us being rather new to the practice of taste testing liquor, we referred to the enclosed tasting spiral frequently to see if we could distinctly taste the individual flavors.
This bourbon was smooth for me and had a nice vanilla and honey taste to it. I completely missed some of the other flavors called out on the card though which shows that I need to do this a little more often to train my nose and tongue to discern these different smells and flavors. We both felt that this had a sweet finish, although not over the top so. This bourbon would be pleasant for an after-dinner drink as well as just something to sip when sitting around and relaxing.
Next, we tried the Rye Whiskey from Few distillery of Evanston, Illinois.
I’m not a big fan of rye whiskey so right away this one started out challenged. This one did not feel good on the tongue for me, a little too tingly and the hint of rye flavor and pepper took it down a further notch. As mentioned above, I missed out on quite a few of the other flavors called out on the tasting spiral which may have made this a little more pleasant for me. Gina liked this one, she likes rye whiskey, but it was not an overwhelming favorite for her either.
Finally, we moved to the Mahir Bay Single Malt Scotch from Kilchoman distillery on the island of Islay in Scotland.
Right away this scotch hits you with its smoky nose and flavor. I could smell it before I even held it up to my nose; I love smokey flavors, so we are off to a good start with this scotch. The smokey taste coupled with the peaty taste made this a new flavor for me and a pleasant one. I also picked up a little of the vanilla flavor in this while Gina picked out the white chocolate. This scotch has a pleasant sweet finish as well, but the smokey flavor held on to the very end.
Of the three the Machir Bay was by far my favorite and one that I would probably purchase. Overall we enjoyed the challenge of the tasting and trying to discern the different smells and flavors.
I’m going to keep the membership in place; I think the value is there with their selection of samplers, the information on the website available to members only, and the opportunity to get unusual liquors that may not be available at your local liquor store. If you are looking for an online discount liquor store, this is not the place. Their prices are similar to what you would pay for the same product at other online retailers; the difference is usually made up by the monthly free shipping for a single bottle. I like the idea of being able to try a liquor before I buy it and trying it in comparison to others of a similar type. It’s also a fun way to learn about the various distilleries around the world from large distilleries to small craft types and the products they make.
I plan on doing a monthly feature of a sampler from Flaviar please subscribe, so you don’t miss the next installment; I need the additional training. I also need to get some better glasses for tasting.
Also, I apologize for the quality of some of the photos; I am still learning the nuances of photography for blogging.
The new layout was activated last night and those that subscribed received an email and probably saw the initial layout first thing this morning with all of the default content.
This has been cleared out for the most part and the main structure of the site is in place. There are still a number of tweaks to be made to the site and there are some features I’m still learning about setting up. There are also a few glitches I’ve noticed and I working to cure/fix those as well.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary please leave me a message with the details by using the “Contact Page.”
Just a quick informational post. I’ll be making some changes to the layout around here over the next couple of days. Hope to have it all done prior to the weekend with a layout that is a little less stark, more responsive, user-friendly and allows me to share multiple things I will be working on.
I’m a member of Bespoke Post and have been receiving their Box of Awesome for five years now. They are a subscription box company that specializes in lifestyle items for men. They have eight categories of items they sell ranging from clothing and accessories to home and outdoor items. Recently they have also added a women’s shop to their website with a limited collection of items for the lady in your life. If you’re a member, they send you an email on the first of the month. You have until the 5th of that month to decide to receive the box for that month, select a substitute box from their inventory or choose to bypass this month’s box altogether. If you don’t make a selection, you receive the default box for the month.
I’ve never been disappointed with the quality of the items in the boxes, and quite a few of them have added to some of the pleasures I take in life.
For instance, the Churchill box contained a very nice selection of cigars, a nicely crafted reclaimed wood ashtray, a den candle, some cedar spills for lighting the provided cigars and a cigar cutter.
The Aged box contained a cocktail aging kit and two Cupa-Rocks cocktail tumblers.
This month I missed the email, and so by default I received the Sonic box.
To be honest, I was not in need of another set of headphones. I have a set of the Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones that I purchased a little over two years ago and love them. They block out the vast majority of background noise and allow me to focus on work or whatever I happen to be reading.
The Sudio Tre is a headphone of a different flavor though. These aren’t designed to be noise canceling and in fact, are advertised as offering full sound transparency. This means you can still hear the surrounding noises as you are wearing the headphones. They are designed to wear during a workout, run, bike ride or any activity where you may not want total isolation from the background. They are very minimal design with earbuds and a flat connecting cable of rubberized matte back material. On the right side just below the earbud is the small remote with three buttons while in the same position on the left side is the battery container. These two containers are of the same size and help to balance the set weight as well as the design; it looks well thought out and not clunky like other headphones of this type I’ve seen. The earbuds are covered with the same rubberized material as the rest of the set and have a wingtip design to help them stay in your ear during heavy activity.
In the box
- Tre earphones with three pairs of wing tips
- Owners Manual & Quality Assurance Card
- Leather Carrying Case
- Metal Clip
- Charging Cable
After charging the headset for a couple of hours, I paired them with my iPad, and I was quickly listening to music and podcasts as I worked around the house and yard. I tried them on with the wing-tips they came with by default. The earbuds fit easily into my ear and were quite comfortable; I was pleasantly surprised. They don’t weigh much and are hardly noticeable while wearing them around the shop or outside working in the yard. There wasn’t a single activity that dislodged them from within my ear, and the rubberized material makes them very sweat resistant. The cable passing behind my head resting on my neck was hardly noticeable, and I like that they were never in the way of anything I was doing.
The sound quality was good, strong bass with a nice clear mid and top end.
I’ve not had the opportunity to try them for a long period; the manufacturer advertises they have a nine-hour battery life with a ten-day life in standby mode; charging to full capacity takes 2 hours. They easily lasted for the two hours I wore them, and after a little while, I hardly noticed them.
There were only a couple of drawbacks that I would mention for this review. One is the range for the Bluetooth connectivity, they advertise 15 meters, but that must be line-of-sight. I walked outside the garage door at one point and lost the signal, and at other times the signal was weak. The solution is not to lose sight of your broadcast device. The other was with the owners manual. There are nicely specific instructions for pairing, but nothing that clues you to what the various button do after the set has been paired. The top button closest to your earbud raises the volume, the middle pauses the music, and the bottom lowers the volume. I know, it seems obvious but I never assume anything when it comes to interface design.
Overall I liked these headphones and would recommend them if you are looking for a set of headphones for your workout or when you want to listen to music but don’t want complete isolation.
Surviving an Acute Pulmonary Embolism
– Continued –
I’m lying in an emergency room bed waiting to be “officially” admitted to the hospital. It’s 3:30 am, we’ve been at the hospital about 4 hours now. They’ve started me on blood thinner through an IV drip. Surprisingly there’s not much activity in the ER this morning, except for the crazy guy two beds away from me.
Gina is convinced that she draws the crazy. There was the guy in San Diego that followed us from the train depot up Broadway until I stared him down. There were numerous episodes in Old Town Pasadena and even when we visited San Francisco. She uses this particular occasion as verification, he’s crazy, and he’s close. Never mind he was there before us, she’s convinced. He’s loud, he’s walking around, even though the nurses tell him not to, he has to go to the bathroom, and he just won’t quiet down. Now he’s singing! Every time he walks past the bed I’m in he stops and stares at us. I keep falling in and out of sleep.
4 am. Code Blue on the second floor. The ER nurse comes over and tells me that’s the floor I’m going to, but they can’t move me during a code blue. Oh, a bed is coming available? I’m still a little looped from the earlier hydrocodone, but it’s starting to wear off, and that clown with the knife is back. I’m also on oxygen, and it hurts to take deep breaths, so my breathing stays shallow to avoid the pain. Gina tells me later that when I fall completely asleep, I can still snore as loudly as ever though.
Next thing I know the nurse is there, putting up the side rails and he starts pushing me out of the ER to my room. It’s 5 am. We got to the floor and rolled into a single room; luck is with me. Rolled into position and everything locked in place my floor nurse introduces herself and the student working with her this morning. She explains a few things; for instance, I might not have this room for long. She asks if I’m in pain and to which I reply, “Yes.”
She asks, “How bad on a scale of 1 – 10?”
“8’ is my reply.
She asks if I want another Hydrocodone or perhaps Morphine instead. Morphine, ugh. I hate the stuff, the feeling it gives as it’s pushed in and the instant stupid feeling that comes over me, no thanks. The Hydrocodone just makes me not care about the pain and lets me sleep; I’ll take that thanks. She brings me the meds and now it’s just Gina and me sitting in a hospital room. We chat for a little while, she’s dragging and needs to get home and get some rest. It’s a work day for her, and she’s been up all night with the broken Gnarly Old Guy. She tells me she’ll be back a little after lunch to see how I’m doing. She leaves me with my cell and asks if there’s anything else I want. I ask her to bring my iPad back, and she’s off.
The next few hours become a mind-numbing repetition of events. Hospital food, sleep, room cleaning, vitals, meds, sleep, hospital food, sleep, room cleaning, vitals, meds. At some point, the Doctor visits to tell me again that I have a blood clot in my lung and there are going to be a few more tests. But first I need to be on blood thinning meds I’m off the IV meds by now, and he asks what my insurance will cover? Like I have that stored someplace convenient in my weary brain. I tell him I’m not sure, so he’s off to investigate. He never returns that day; I know shocking right? The nurse is there in about 10 minutes with my first dose of Warfarin and a shot of Heparin that goes right under the skin in my stomach area. We’re having fun now. Gina returns shortly after lunch and brings me some thick socks for my freezing feet, my iPad and a large cup of Starbucks coffee. The hospital coffee is the worst sort of dark water with no flavor.
Later that afternoon another Doctor, a Hematologist, comes by and we talk briefly about what happened and how it may have happened and what he wants to do. He’s going to run every test known to the human race for cancer, just to rule that out completely. Later that evening they take the blood from me, I wonder how much is left after they fill a basket with vials of my blood.
The next 18 hours are pretty much the same routine of events as before, food, vitals, meds, sleep and room cleaning. I get to watch a couple of movies, they have some decent entertainment, and I get in some reading on my iPad. Gina and Ariana visit early in the evening, and we get to share in the day’s events for Ariana.
By the next morning, I’m over this and want to escape. I’m finally released later that afternoon, and I’m home. Weary, sore and glad to be out of the hospital. Instead of taking it easy for a couple of days I try to get back into some routine and regret it by the second day. One of the results of the blood clot was a partially collapsed right lung. I’m not on oxygen, so I get winded easily, the pain is back with a vengeance, and I am falling down tired. Gina tells me to stay in bed for the next three days and keep myself medicated for the pain. I do it, and it puts me on the right road to recovery.
It’s been a little over two weeks now since discharge and every day is better than the last. I’m pretty sure the sedate lifestyle I was living was a major contributor to this happening. I’m standing and walking more than before, we are going to yoga again to loosen things up, and I’ll be starting an exercise routine to trim down and keep this from happening again. I’m clear on all of the cancer screenings; this is a great relief for both Gina and me. This event has given me pause; I need to change things up to keep me active and engaged. Part of that self-imposed therapy is this blog.
Thanks for stopping by. Keep an eye out for more, next post on Saturday.
Acute Pulmonary Embolism
That’s what the Doctor said, “Blood clot in your lung, lower right lobe. I’m moving you to a bed in the Emergency Room until we can get you to a room on one of the floors.”
We’d already been sitting in one of the triage rooms since midnight, the initial triage had been done by a Nurse Practitioner and I didn’t follow what she had been saying, or was I in denial? Gina would tell me later that the Nurse Practitioner pretty much nailed it without all of the tests, sounds like a blood clot. She went to tell the Doctor.
He came right in, I was stunned, I thought there was a clause in the Doctors Union manual about delayed attention to patients. He looked me over quickly, asked a few questions and then ordered a blood test, EKG, chest x-rays and potentially a CT Scan. He asked, “Have you taken any medication?’
“Yes, a hydrocodone 500 at 11:00pm. The reason we’re here is it didn’t help with the pain, it felt like someone was stabbing me when I tried to lie down in bed.” It was starting to take affect now though.
He had a quizzical look on his face, you know the one dogs get when they look at you and tilt their head to the side, I swear he tilted his head. “What?”
“I’m sorry, a hydrocodone 5-500.”
“Oh, that’s makes more sense. I’m going to give you some other medications right away.”
Off he went to order the procedures and order the meds for the nurse to dispense. I start to drift off to sleep sitting in the chair next to Gina, leaning against her. She nudges me awake as the nurse walks back in. The nurse hands me a little cup with pills, I don’t recall how many now, but she mentions pain killer and I’m all over that. The clown with the knife is still jabbing me, just not quite so energetically now. I gulp the pills down and quickly drift back to sleep. Someone comes in and takes a blood draw for testing.
The EKG tech walks in and directs me to a gurney in the room. I lie down and he puts all the sticky pads on me in the places designated by his training, hooks me to the machine and runs it for about 30 seconds. He removes everything and he’s off.
Next the X-ray tech come in, asks if I’m ready to take a walk and we’re off to the x-ray room. He takes 2 full frontal chest shots and a side chest shot and I’m back to the triage room. This time I move right to the gurney and lie down, within seconds I’m out cold asleep. Gina tells me later that this was not a good time for her, my breathing was ragged and shallow.
The Doctor comes back to the room, Gina wakes me and the doctor tells me the blood test showed positive for a blood clot. They needed to do the CT Scan now to confirm.
At some point the nurse comes back into the room and wakes me, time to put in an IV. She stretches out my right arm, taps me on the inside of my elbow and says, “Great veins.” I’ve won a prize! She inserts the IV and she’s off.
Next the CT Scan tech comes in and we take a long walk to the CT Scan room. He puts me in the machine and asks me if I’ve ever had a CT Scan with contrast? I tell him yes, but he explains what to expect anyway and we are off. He starts the machine whirling about and then begins the contrast solution. I really have a dislike for CT Scans with contrast, the feeling you get as the contrast solution moves through your body creeps me out and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. We finish the procedure and I’m back to the triage room once again.
Shortly the Doctor enters and gives the final diagnosis. I’m stunned, what’s beyond stunned? I’m there.
I don’t remember how I made the transition from the triage room to the bed in the Emergency Room, did I walk, did they bring in a wheelchair? I’m standing beside the bed taking off my shirt and putting on one of those stupid hospital gowns with more openings than a book of short stories. The staff nurse lets me keep my pants on, thanks goodness. Absolutely no one wants to see old man butt or the other items located within, I was appreciative.
So now I’m in a bed, I’m being admitted for the second time this year!?!? That’s a story for later perhaps.
Gina is right there next to me the entire time, holding my hand, letting me lean on her, talking to me, helping keep me calm, because right now I’m wigged out. Later that morning I realize, my wife saved my life. Despite my stubbornness she put me in the car and drove me to the ER, I’m alive today due to her action and lovingly applied pressure to move. I owe her everything above and beyond my love.
To be continued . . .
My name is David Briley and this is my blog. The original intention was to do a lifestyle blog some time ago. I love telling stories, and my wife, some of my friends and former employees told me I should step into this. The above event and the follow up has motivated me to finally do it. I’m beginning this by sharing a life changing event in my life. An event that happened at the ripe old age of 61. My intention is to share what happened, what followed and my plan for recovery. After that, if you’re still with me, and I hope you’ll stay around, I’ll share other stories from my life.
I’ll also be sharing other things as well. I love cigars but have never really taken the time to learn much about them, this one will have to wait, but once I completely recover I’ll be sharing about what I learn, sources for the learning and impressions of the cigars I smoke.
I also like good quality liquor, in mixed drinks as well as single ingredient. Again, my knowledge level is basic at best, but I plan on enhancing that over time and sharing my journey there as well as what I am currently enjoying.
I’m sure as I move this forward there will be other things I will share with you my readers.
Please stay tuned for the next installment in Surviving an Acute Pulmonary Embolism.
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you come back for more.