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Back Buzz - September 25, 1998

pumping heartvalign=middle> Lighthouse Roasters, 400 North 43rd Street, Fremont

This friendly cafe and coffee roaster on the corner of 43rd and Phinney is located in the quiet part of upper Fremont just south of Phinney Ridge, and a mere two blocks west of a great hedge trimmed into the shape of three faces. The cafe was very quiet one recent Wednesday afternoon when we stopped in. It's furnished with classy diner-style tables and chairs from the 1950s as well as cool '50s barstools lining the inviting bar. The walls, painted in pleasant autumnal Fremontian colors, lend an odd-angled look and a feeling of disproportion to the place. A stage in the back corner displays bags of Lighthouse coffee beans and a couple of antique machines, perhaps coffee roasters or grinders.

When I ordered my double short cappuccino from the barista he asked Max, who had accompanied me on this visit, what he'd like. "Oh, nothing, thanks," said Max. The barista gave him a sad look and then insisted with a sparkle in his eye, "...but it's really tasty!" Somehow Max found it in his heart to decline anyway.

My cappuccino was served in a beautiful cup: flatter than tall, shiny white and lusciously round. The drink, made with Lighthouse's own beans, was very good: strong, robust, shots tamped hard enough, and the foam a pleasant blanket cloaking the rich black goodness. Yes, a fine cup!

The mural menu behind the bar shows two large cups of coffee floating in the ocean near a lighthouse. One of the cups, sadly, is spilling its coffee overboard; but I'm sure this spill would be much tastier and more stimulating than your typical oil spill. And I don't think the wildlife would object as much, either.

Actually now that I study them, the odd look of the painted walls is helped by the angled cuts of each plane; the exaggerated perspective is obviously intentional, like in a House of Mystery.

Yes, I remember those distorted houses of my youth. One was at Knott's Berry Farm, as I recall; if a tall person stood in one part of the room and a short person stood in another part, the short person would look taller than the tall person. As a child I thought it had something to do with the universe being curved. But what did I know? I was only a little girl who would later become enamored with Einstein's theory of relativity...

Reminds me of a short discussion from this past week with my Bay Area friend about math, physics, and beer:

The following paragraph is from the latest Triple Rock Brewery e-mail newsletter:

Berkeley Beer Festival: As most of might know already the Beer festival has been postponed this year. ItAs rescheduled for May ofA99. Triple Rock is not running the event this year, Judy Ashworth and Fred Dodworth have taken over as event coordinators. For more info call 510-548-1067."

I'm not even sure when "May ofA99" will be. Is it a new temporary notation for years in the vicinity of 2000?

Did you really want to go to the ItAs festival? As far as I can tell, A99 probably refers to a year in another planetary system, or at least on another planet. Perhaps Jupiter. I know --the Jupiter Taproom in Berkeley! But how can we translate that into an Earth date? Let's see...one Jupiter year is equal to 11.86 Earth years, with 9 hours 50 minutes per day...what's the gravity on Jupiter, anyway? I just read how you can convert gravity to alcohol-by-weight by dividing the last two gravity digits by 13, and alcohol-by-weight is about 20% lower than alcohol-by-volume. So if the gravity at the Jupiter Taproom is 2.64 times the gravity on Earth, and you happen to have a job with a serious amount of gravity (and little levity), then I'd say you're currently in the process of celebrating your very own beer festival. But watch out for those high-density barley wines -- they could give you the bends.

For some reason the comfort and design of Lighthouse Roasters also brings to mind a train, not to mention this e-mail exchange with my Chicago friend:

I'm off on the Talgo train to Portland today to play for a couple days with some friends and their cows. And then...and then...who knows? Life is really complicated...

Oh....the Talgo train....if only I could spend the rest of my life riding on the Talgo train, then I would be truly happy, truly truly happy, terribly happy.

Here's a little song I wrote for you:

Oh the Talgo train
is a mighty fine train
Oh the Talgo train
is such a groovy groovy train
I ride the Talgo train
when I have menstrual pain
I take the Talgo train
to the Astral Plain
And when I lose control
I never leave a stain
on the fine upholstery
of the Talgo train
When you open a window
it sucks out your brain
from the dining car
of the Talgo Train.
©1998 Robert Metrick

What a totally cool song! Thanks! I've been singing it over and over again, driving everybody crazy, and I'm thinking of including it on an album of train songs I want to record. Do you want to fly out and sing harmony?

I'm back from my trip. The Talgo train ride was totally cool. There are TV monitors in the coach cars and they sell Redhook ESB in the lounge car. There was a very strange multilingual sign screwed on the restroom wall, too. It said not to use the toilet while in the station. This was in French, Spanish, Italian, and German, but not in English. Over the toilet was a sign in all five languages saying not to throw trash in the toilet.

Does this mean you shouldn't use the train while in a French, Spanish, Italian, or German station only? Or does it mean only foreign-speaking people shouldn't use the toilet while in an American station? Or does it mean English speakers are too stupid for anyone to even attempt to tell not to use the toilet while in the station?

I think the sign implies that English-speaking people would never understand toilet etiquette anyway since it's never been ingrained into the English culture. According to the Talgo Train Board of Directors, most English-speaking people are illiterate vermin who leave their droppings wherever gravity rules and, lately, where it doesn't rule.

So what do you do to get Americans out of your attic, anyway? I used to think we had squirrels or raccoons or peccaries living in our crawl spaces. But lately I've been finding little shredded bits of Avis maps of Seattle, so I think they might be tourists.