Aug 232010

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This is what’s left of my 3rd attempt at roasting coffee in my new SR500 air roaster that I got from Sweet Maria’s. I had never tried roasting coffee before. Now I have an idea of what roasters mean when they talk about “first crack” and “second crack.”

For my first batch, last Wednesday evening, I followed the manufacturer’s instructions exactly. The beans ended up a bit on the burnt side and oily on the outside. Whoever said you can’t get dark roasts with an air roaster? You can with this one. The instructions said to wait at least 3 hours before grinding and brewing, so I waited about 3 hours and 4 minutes. It was good, but there was a strange, burnt aftertaste that shouldn’t have been there. Surprisingly to me (though perhaps not to anyone else) that batch got better after it aged a day or so. But it’s all gone now.

I shortened the roasting time for the 2nd batch, and it ended up too light and too uneven. It’s drinkable, but not a favorite. Myra asked what the funny taste was. I haven’t offered her a 2nd cup.

She says I got it right on the 3rd batch (above). I got it by increasing fan speed and cutting the roast time not so much as for the previous batch. But as can be seen, it’s not as even a roast as it ought to be. Some beans are too light in color, and some are perhaps too dark.

Tom at Sweet Maria’s suggests that with the SR500 one should roast smaller batches to get more even roasts. Using the manufacturer’s measure, each batch is a litle more than a quarter-pound. If Tom is right that a 90 gram batch is about right, that means I can divide each one-pound bag of green beans into five equal portions.

At one time I wondered if I really wanted a roaster that couldn’t do more than 1/4 pound at a time, but now I’m glad I got the one I did. If I did bigger batches, it would take me too many days to drink them up and I wouldn’t have the fresh roasted beans which are the whole point of roasting one’s own. 90 gram batches ought to be about right for our household.

I got the 8-pound sampler with the roaster. My first experiments have been on the coffee labelled “Rwanda Gkongoro Nyarusiza”. The cup I had this afternoon had a bit of fruity taste to it. I went back to read Tom’s label on the bag: “…restrained acidity, sweet citrus, rose, tea-like flavors, floral brightness, medium body, dried orange peel.” Well, I can’t make all those specific tastes, but it did have a pleasantly surprising fruitiness that I hadn’t noticed on previous cups, or even on any other coffee.

Aug 202010

The Weekly Standard had a little too much fun with Todd Purdum’s lame defense of President Obama in Vanity Fair. Not that there is anything wrong with Obama-bashing per se, but sometimes it causes the practitioners to take their eye off the ball. Like this time, under the heading, “Excuses, Excuses“:

Todd Purdum explains in Vanity Fair that Washington is “broken.” The presidency is under too much pressure. “The modern presidency … has become a job of such gargantuan size, speed, and complexity as to be all but unrecognizable to most of the previous chief executives,” Purdum writes.

…And there’s not enough time in the day for the president. Well, you’ve heard all this before. It’s the too-big-for-one-person excuse first trotted out decades ago to minimize the stumbling and bumbling of Jimmy Carter. It didn’t boost Carter’s approval rating, nor is it likely to jack up Obama’s. But come to think of it, that excuse has the ring of truth. The presidency was a job too big for Carter—and it may be for Obama as well.

Obama may be too inexperienced, and Carter may have been a malicious fool, but George W. Bush wasn’t exactly Mr. Competent, either. And do we really want a president who can master the monster our government has come? Wouldn’t that require someone of Stalinist powers and Clintonian inclinations? No, the presidency ought to be a job that can be handled by any of hundreds of honest and talented persons in the country.

Instead of using the current situation as an excuse to point out the relative incompetence of President Obama, we should instead be using it to point out that Purdum is right. Government is too “gargantuan” and “complex,” and it needs to be scaled back in size and scope so it doesn’t live or die by whoever is at the top. It needs to be able to function when the top office is occupied by those who are not quite the best and brightest among us.

Aug 052010

My comment on Katherine Hobson’s blog article at the WSJ titled, “Institute for Safe Medication Practices: Drug Shortages ‘Unprecedented’

Since the author had a chance to talk to this Michael Cohen, I wish she would have asked more questions about this “authority” that he thinks the FDA should have. Who would be compelled to do what? Who is supposed to be responsible to whom for a “plan?” After all, it’s not clear how a “plan” could help with any of the causes that the article lists. There are a whole lot of unanswered questions that need answers before we think about giving the FDA more power; otherwise it’s just another power grab.