Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Alternate Realities

One of the reasons I think travel is worthwhile is that it reminds you that there are other ways of life. Living in Canada or the USA it's too easy to think ours is "the" way of life.

It's pretty cool to see there are kids out there that are ploughing their fields with oxen in the morning to grow their own food, and rock climbing in the afternoon. Despite the Cuban government making climbing illegal - what's up with that?

Great photography as always from Renan - watch it HD and larger sized to get the best view

Cuba Chapter4_The Life of Leo from renan ozturk on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Slowly

Despite the cold (-15c yesterday) and snow still everywhere, spring is slowly arriving. The days are longer and the sun is stronger. And the honking of the geese is heard once more.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Museo Slips a Notch

I was biking by the Mendel yesterday and I decided to stop at Museo Coffee. Recently I've been hearing about Jimmy (the owner) roasting his own coffee and Collective Coffee using his beans.

Normally I'd order a latte or an americano, but I thought I'd check out their other coffee. I asked what kind(s) they had. Neither of the staff knew what kind of coffee they were serving!? This is a place that claims to have the best coffee in Saskatoon and they don't even know what kind they're serving? Eventually they found the bag of beans and told me it was "Kenyan" - not very specific. But I saw the bag and it was the Nyeri Ichamara that Museo had just blogged about. I was interested to try it so I ordered a cup.

I was a little surprised (and disappointed) when they poured a cup out of a big thermal dispenser. Museo's web site says "drip coffee is made fresh by the cup". Not any more I guess. The coffee wasn't hot, a sign it had probably been sitting for a while. It was still good, but I can't help think it would be better if it was fresh.

It was a little ironic because one of the reasons I order a latte or an americano is to ensure that it's made fresh. But I (mistakenly) thought I didn't have to worry about that here. Maybe they still offer individual brewing as an option, but they didn't ask.

As a business owner myself, I know that there is always a gap between the owner's ideals and the practical running of the business. All you can do is try to pass on your values. And the staff turnover in a coffee shop must make it tough to do that. That might explain the staff not even knowing what coffee they were serving. (Although at least one of the ones who didn't know has been working there quite a while.) But switching from brewing by the cup to brewing big batches was presumably a management decision. And no matter how much you think you'll keep the batches fresh, staff that doesn't even care what kind it is, isn't going to be motivated to throw it out and brew fresh as often as they should.

Probably the staff complained that it was too much work and too slow to brew by the cup. But it can't be any more work than a latte, and they still serve those. Maybe some non-aficionado customers complained about the wait. But you can't try to be the "best" AND be quick and cheap.

Maybe part of the problem is that Jimmy is now focusing on the roasting and not so much on Museo.

Note: Coffee Collective isn't brewing individually but at least in very small batches (in home sized french presses). Hopefully they won't devolve into brewing by the bucket.

Don't get me wrong, Museo is still a great place and the coffee is still really good. I'll continue to go there. It's just too bad that their initial ideals are fading a bit.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Frost and Fog

I'm a sucker for frosty foggy mornings. The funny part was that just this morning I had taken my G12 camera out of my pack (where I usually keep it, just in case) thinking that I was highly unlikely to be taking pictures when it was this cold (-25c). But I was listening to a podcast on my iPhone so it wasn't too bad to take my mitts off, pull it out, snap a few photos, and then quickly put my mitts back on before my hands froze. Perversely, if my better camera had been in my pack I might not have taken any photos because I wouldn't have wanted to dig it out.

Saturday, March 05, 2011


I watched the film Alamar (To the Sea) last night on Netflix. ( review) It's slow and there's not much plot or action. But there's a friendly cattle egret and a neighborhood crocodile, beautiful ocean scenery above and below the water, and a glimpse of a simpler life. I liked it.

At one point the grandfather says: "Those who live at sea live happily. You have to love the sea, otherwise you'll be unhappy. It's beautiful here at sea." How many of us "more privileged" folks love where we work, love where we live, call it beautiful?

The film is set in Banco Chinchorro a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve off the coast of Mexico.

It's in Spanish with English subtitles. I even managed to catch a few words of Spanish :-)

Netflix may not have the latest Hollywood hits, but it has a lot of other good films that you won't find in the video store or on iTunes.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

To Go

"For my part I travel not to go anywhere, but to go; I travel for travel's sake. And to write about it afterwards, if only the public will be so condescending as to read. But the great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of life a little more nearly; to get down off this feather bed of civilisation, and to find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints."
-- Robert Louis Stevenson