Sep. 18 - Sorry there was no Almanac yesterday. My morning was hijacked by Danish immigration—to whom I have now surrendered my passport as part of the residency application process.
Today is Independence Day in Chile, and you know I'd love to get into that, but I don't have much time so I thought I'd just mention something that's been getting on my nerves lately.
That something is Denmark's lack of accessible coffee.
Danish readers will surely recoil—"No coffee? But we're a nation of coffee-drinkers! We consume gallons (okay, liters) per capita—per week! We love our coffee, we can't sustain ourselves without it. How can you accuse us of not having coffee?"
That's why I said it was a lack of accessible coffee. Yes, every meal at every restaurant or home includes coffee. Yes, the coffee is very good. It's outstanding, actually. And yes, there are cafes all over the city.
But try to get a cup of coffee on the run. Try to get a cup at a gas station or convenience store, even a bakery. You'll strike out almost every time.
I remember Trine once telling me that you could always recognize Americans in Europe because we're the only people on the planet who drink soda or coffee while we're walking around.
Yesterday, as we waited for our number to be called at the Immigration office, we decided we'd take a walk to kill some time. It was only natural that I should want an ambulatory cup of joe—it was still fairly early and we'd had to hurry out of the house before I could finish my first gallon.
We tried the usual suspects and came up empty. In the end we went back to the Immigration office and I got a 5-kroner cup of coffee out of their vending machine. Which raises another issue: the Danes have apparently not yet discovered the healing power of styrofoam.
When you are lucky enough to find a cup of coffee to go—and believe me, it takes luck—it will be served to you in a thin plastic cup—the sort of thing that might be used in America to serve punch at a five-year-old's birthday party. The construction of these cups seems to be engineered specifically to maximize heat transfer. They're almost impossible to carry without gloves—and they had better be asbestos gloves. Because they're so thin, they offer no resistance to the pressure of your fingers, so that when, in reaction to the shocking pain of blistering coffee dripping onto your hand, your fingers clench reflexively around the cup, they scrunch it up and displace still more coffee, scalding your hand all the more.
Trine was unimpressed by my complaints. "We like to take our time with our coffee," she explained. "Coffee isn't just about drinking the coffee, it's about taking the time to enjoy it. It's kind of a ritual."
So is human sacrifice, but we got rid of that.
I know, I know, I'm a lousy American, I want everything five minutes ago and I want to be able to take it with me as I hurry on to wherever I'm supposed to be two minutes ago. But coffee isn't just a lovely warm drink to sip at your leisure: it's a narcotic delivery system. Not all junkies have the time or leisure to sit at lovely cafes over steaming cups of exotic coffee. Some of us just need our fix in a plain white styrofoam (or thick cardboard) cup. Because whatever our famous wise men say, getting there isn't always half the fun. Sometimes getting there is a big pain in the ass.
A portable cup of potable joe helps us on our way.
Time's up, gotta run. Here's the usual crap. . .
Regular Briefing Stuff
Jimi Hendrix died thirty-two years ago today, in London. He was 27 years old.
It was on this date in 1793 that President George Washington laid the foundation stone for the U.S. Capitol. According to numerous sources, President Washington "laid the stone in a Masonic ceremony... preceded by a parade and followed by celebration and feasting."
(I am troubled by such deviant sexual behavior on the part of our founding father and by our young nation's apparent celebration of his bizarre geological fetish. I therefore endorse a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting federal representatives from engaging in sexual relations with rocks.)
The 1792 competition for the design of the Capitol had been won by an amateur architect, and the building was therefore burned by the British before it could be completed. Congress had moved into the building on November 22, 1800, but managed to escape the fire.
It was also on this date in 1830 that the first locomotive ever built in the U.S., the "Tom Thumb," lost a nine-mile race to a horse.
Today is the birthday of Frankie Avalon (1939), Jack Warden (1920), Greta Garbo (1905), and Samuel Johnson (1709).
© 2003, The Moron's Almanac