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Back Buzz - November 14, 2010

Caffe Appassionato / Breakfast Years and the Bejesus Particle

pumping heartCaffe Appassionato, 1218 North 45th Street, Wallingford, Seattle, Washington

On a recent trip back to my home-town-by-birth in California, I had the chance to spend three short days in my adopted home town of Seattle. I stayed with my friend The Barb who spoiled me by brewing me a fresh cup of coffee each morning in preparation for the jam-packed day ahead. As a result I had only one chance to have a coffee out in the Coffee Capital of America.

We were meeting fellow bizarreal artiologist Unkletom in Wallingford for a safari through the world famous bizarreal artiology emporium, of Archie McPhee. And what better place to meet than at a nearby coffeehouse? So we chose Caffe Appassionato, directly across the street and highly recommended by an Archie McPhee staff member.

When I lived in Seattle in the 1990s I often went to the original Caffe Appassionato on the top of Queen Anne Hill. Since then the Appassionato empire has expanded to 5 cafes in Seattle, one in Massachusetts, and cafes in Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. This particular Wallingford location used to be a Starbucks until it closed 2 years ago. What a welcome improvement.

We ordered drinks and a breakfast snack. Although it was quite pleasant inside on this quiet Friday morning we decided to sit outside on the front patio with a perfect view across Stone Way of the big LESS TALK, MORE MONKEY sign on the side of Archie McPhee, as well as the neighbouring Blue Star Cafe and Pub. Our breakfast omelette sandwiches consisted of English muffins toasted panini style, and mine was filled with scrambled egg, cheese, mushrooms, tomato, and spinach, while The Barb's had some ham as well. With the degradation of quality in modern life caused by the creeping commercial monopolisation of the globe, it's refreshing to find the Egg McMuffin idea has evolved in this direction.

My very smooth double macchiato was perfectly presented in a pleasantly egg-shaped white china macchiato cup. The Barb had an iced mocha that she thoroughly enjoyed, and Unkletom sipped a San Pellegrino Sparkling Orange. As my two loquacious companions chattered away, I sat and mused quietly on the quality of life, coffee, cities, Zen, motorcycle maintenance, and eggs. A tiny Chihuahua suddenly appeared out of nowhere and displayed a surprising interest in our drinks. Or was it our omelette sandwiches?

Speaking of eggs reminds me of an e-mail conversation earlier this year with my Bay Area friend about the 2010s:

Watching the credits for a film the other night, when I saw the "MCMLXXXII" at the end, I suddenly realised that up to 120 years ago we spent our entire lives living in "MCM..." years. And then I realised what this year is: MMX. It sounds like somebody who has a speech impediment or just a mumbling problem ordering breakfast. So this year, 2010, is the Breakfast Year!

Is it going to turn out to be Eggs Benedict? A Spanish Omelette? Or perhaps just a couple of fresh baked croissants with strawberries and a double cappuccino? I did realize how much shorter the production dates on films have gotten. I didn't feel much sympathy for my 24-yr-old co-worker who said he could never comprehend those dates; nearly half of his life it's been only 2-3 Roman digits. But it never occurred to me that 2010 marks the dawning of the age of MMX. And for the next 40 years! When we're both over 90 we can mumblingly proclaim things like MMXLIV. (And at that age people won't linger much over the fact that it doesn't make much sense in any language.)

...and on a related subject is this earlier short e-mail from the same friend:

My young Chinese co-worker seems to have acquired language entirely by phonetic means without any understanding of etymology. In some cases the acquisition has been faulty.

She just asked me if there is really such a word as "mageebus," as in "You scared the mageebus out of me." Her questions often point the way to interesting topics, and I try to answer her with references to web sites that go into a related point in depth. In this case I was intrigued to find a page devoted to the physics of bejesus [defined as "a substance found in the human body that determines how close one is to becoming Jesus"].

So how many bajillion bejesus particles does it take to inflate a balloon? To inflate an ego? What volume is occupied by one mole of bejesus? How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could be Jesus?