Grand Larseny



What's a sweatshop without a little fun?

Erhem, So, Actually…

Time to get your nerd on like Donkey Kong. Or something like that.

I’ve keeping up to date on the most excellent Bitter Press blog as Jesse has been fleshing out his new format. Pretty interesting for those who don’t know; he’s decided to only have one post at a time but with a post that is very weighty and informative. It makes the whole operation feel relevant and fleeting.

The latest post has my inner nerd both applauding and desiring a little clarification. I love how he’s embracing the scientific understanding of coffee extraction. But there are both variables that I think he overlooks and terms that I feel need to be redefined.

First, he does not take the level of roast into account in his extraction equation. While I cannot link to any sources on this, a darker roast will extract quicker. This is because the grounds are less dense than a lighter roast which allows for quicker saturation. Again, this may be BS, but my own empirical experience backs this theory up.

Second, pressure speeds extraction in ways that I don’t fully understand. I know that at the nine bars of pressure in espresso extraction the insoluble oils are emulsified into the beverage, but even at less pressure the extraction profile changes. An Aeropress is different than a pour-over and I really believe that the added pressure is a factor.

Third, he does not take account how long off the roast the coffee is. Granted this is not terribly important past a day or two, but it is very important for the home roaster.

Last, the importance of agitation is the movement of water over the surface of the coffee. Of course, if you agitate a brew after it has steeped a while it will mix the less saturated water in with the more, but that is less important than the movement of the water. Of course, his point still stands that agitation is a great extraction enhancer and should be used with caution.

If nothing else, I really hope everyone who reads this immediately reads everything they can from Jesse. Good writing is a pleasure to read and good writing about coffee is my favorite.

Bedtime Grace

I should be asleep now, but I need to record this. I mean, I will be waking up in seven hours and instead of being in bed I’m typing at my computer. What, seven hours doesn’t seem like a lot to you? Congratulations, dawg, you need less sleep than me. Get off your high horse. I mean, not sleeping much isn’t something to brag about anyway, so I don’t know why you even do it. You just make yourself look small.

Anyway. This wasn’t meant to be a funny post, but I like to make myself smile.

So I was just checking on Mae as is my wont before bed when it occurred to me, I love her so much I don’t want my sins to cause her any harm, so I started praying. I prayed that God would protect her from my sin, but the Spirit moved within me causing me to question whether that was a good thing to ask. How could God protect her from my sin? God does not remove the physical consequences of sin even though they are taken on by Jesus at the cross. The here-and-now consequences of anorexia cannot be avoided.

When I realized that He couldn’t protect her from the consequences of my sin I realized he would have to just totally keep me from sinning in a way that affects her. This is, of course, just another way of asking God to keep me from sinning at all. To keep me from sinning He would either have to take away my freedom to sin, which He does not do, or take away my life, which he does not want to do right now. So we’re left with the situation where I will cause my daughter harm in the future because of my sin. This makes me sad.

But, glory to God, He loves my daughter even more than I. The solution is not to remove my freedom or my life, but to add God’s redemption into our lives. We need God. It is His redemption that takes my sin and bring His own glory. He loves my daughter so much that He will intervene in her life, if she asks, so that my sin will work for her good.

So, I pray again that she will seek God. That he will love her and change her heart to love him. And although I will sin against God and her, I pray that God forgive my sin and show His grace in our relationship, a dirty, dim mirror of the way He wants His family to be.

Faith Outside Ourselves

Faith is nonexistent if you don’t act like you have it, but how do you act when your faith is in your own inaction?

The circles I travel in are tangentially related to theology, and this pleases me. I really do have a love for theology, and every time I get to talk about God with folk I end up feeling better. So, when the name of a book kept coming up again and again and again I thought, ok God, I’ll pick it up. The book is Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. He also gave the speech at this year’s congressional prayer breakfast. Guy’s quickly becoming a big muckity-muck.

So I’ve made it through the introduction. Yeah, super speed-reader over here and just as quick to judge. One thing it’s brought to my mind, though, is the importance of the faith that saves us from our sin. The introduction lays out Christian responses to the gospel in a continuum ranging from cheap grace to costly grace to legalism. I’ll explain.

Cheap grace is the belief that God will always happily cover all our sins so there’s no need to change anything about how we live. In a sense, sin is free. Costly grace believes that Jesus paid a very heavy toll for our sins, so we owe it to him to live our lives worthy of him. Well, I’m not 100% sure that’s what costly grace is, but that’s how it is in my head right now. Then legalism is legalism. We earn our salvation by being right before God. This is stupid.

Costly grace as a concept confuses me. What does it mean that costly grace necessitates life change? How does costly grace work without having to perform the faith that saves us? And if we have to prove our faith how is there any hope for anyone?

Example: If I have faith in electricity and local government and my home maintenance I have no second thoughts about flipping on the light switch to turn the light on. If, however, I try to hit the lightbulb with a broom or consult with expert electricians how to make light appear or even worry each time before I turn the switch on I demonstrate that I do not, in fact, have faith in the light switch to do its function. Moving then to the faith that saves us from our sins, how can we demonstrate our faith when the very thing we have faith in is our own inaction (our total depravity deprives us of any opportunity for action) and instead in the Christ’s actions. How can that be acted?

I do hope the book will have its own answer, but since I’m coming at the book with my own agenda it probably won’t be answered. It’s really not fair to the book, but still I can’t help but be a bit frustrated.

The New iPad

Don’t call this a review. It’s more of a mild disappointment with the general level of discourse about Apple with non-tech people I run into (well, even a lot of tech-oriented people too). Take for example the new iPad.

The iPad has a completely new display that is demonstrably better than what came before. It makes every activity on the iPad more enjoyable. We can know this without having used a new iPad. Just look at the iPhone display upgrade (iPhone 3GS -> iPhone 4). It made everything more enjoyable. Going back and looking at the old display you constantly felt like you needed to blink away the ugly. Truly, the new display is a standalone feature.

The new iPad also has double the amount of RAM which will make it feel faster, and it connects to 4G wireless networks, which is a really, really fast way to connect to the internet when you’re out and about. Seriously, it’s fast.

These are not minor upgrades. And yet, most everyone I talk to looks down their nose at the progress that happens before them. It’s like that for  more than the iPad, too. People really don’t want to think there’s anything out there better than what they have. In one sense it’s definitely healthy to not spend money on things you can’t afford, and one strategy for doing that is to downplay the need for potential purchases. I can understand that.

The better strategy is to acknowledge that there is something better, but to still be happy with what you have. And, like before, that goes for more than just an iPad.

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