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Back Buzz - March 6, 2000

[pumping heart]Pelosi's, 14-15 West Terrace, Folkestone, Kent

I was beginning to think I was never going to find another place in Southeast England that uses a real live espresso machine to make its espressos. What is with this automatic coffee/espresso/cappuccino/hot chocolate vending machine craze, anyway? It's not just because I'm from Seattle that I crave the roar of the coffee grinder, the firm tamp of the barista's arm, the gentle moan of the boiler, the gooshy squeal of the steaming arm -- no, this is due to much more than snobbery or previous expectations. It's a desire for art and beauty. It's a desire for the finer things in life available for a mere handful of coins, a desire for the richness and sensuality of historical aromas and tastes and habits. It's due to a pure, honest zest for living! And somehow a pushbutton or two just doesn't fill the ticket. I mean, why settle for a digital cappuccino when the old-fashioned analog variety is vastly superior, beyond comparison?

Anyway, sorry about that, but I guess I can't help but vent my frustration now and then. I do hope I haven't raised your hopes about Pelosi's, an ice cream parlour situated on a pleasant corner in central Folkestone with a view of the Channel. Besides ice cream Pelosi's offers burgers and fast-food items, sandwiches and jacket potatoes, and various sweets and pastries. Although the atmosphere and decor suggests that of a McDonald's or a Burger King, I was drawn into this place when I spotted the Gaggia professional espresso machine on the counter next to a nice big burr grinder. Yes, yes! I thought to myself. An authentic, possibly good cappuccino once again!

My first indication this wasn't necessarily so was when I realized I had a choice of a "cappuccino" or "cappuccino with cream". Now, why would anybody in their right mind put cream in their cappuccino? That's like sprinkling grated cheese over your cheese soup or making a bread-crumb sandwich or deep-frying your low-fat veggie burger in beef fat. Needless to say I went for the creamless cappuccino which was served way, way too hot; my first sip made me feel as though I'd just swallowed Chernobyl. And was that cinnamon sprinkled on top, or the flaked remnants of my radioactively charred mouth?

In all I'd say this was an unpleasant cappuccino experience, even from the point of view of my currently lowered standards. This "cafe" is more of a fast-food joint, quite big with lots of cheap tables -- and as I was scalding myself beyond repair on my so-called cappuccino I discovered my feet were resting in some sort of oily, salty, vinegar-scented slick creeping slowly across the floor. But to Pelosi's credit the location is quite pleasant, situated on the corner of West Terrace right at the point where the Leas runs into the Road of Remembrance. From my table at the window I had a beautiful view -- no, I'm not referring to the McDonald's directly across the street, but to the English Channel just beyond the Leas, the seagulls sailing on high winds over the waves on this spectacularly dramatic day. And there's a statue, a war memorial of some sort, looking out to sea as well. I couldn't tell who's portrayed in the statue -- it's not William Harvey, the discoverer of blood circulation who's immortalized further on down the road. It's a man in a dress holding a sceptre of sorts, with either a serpent or a garden hose coiled on one shoulder. Perhaps he's a god of some sort: the God of Sea Birds? Or the God of Healthy Lawns?

As I left the cafe and ventured out into the gale-force winds I thought I could probably stick my arms out and catch a brief flight to my next appointment, which was meeting a friend at a pub. Perhaps if the beer didn't wash the stale, dirty, burned, wretched taste out of my blistered mouth, the wind could flush it out...

Speaking of flights, here's an e-mail exchange with my Bay Area friend from last year about jetlag:

My sister-in-law is getting married in a couple weeks in California. On Wednesday I learned her brother and his wife are going to be in Japan the week before the wedding, and they were planning to fly back just in time for the 4:00 PM Sunday event. Taking into account the 7-hour difference plus the International Dateline -- and the fact that it's an 11-hour flight -- I figured they'd have to leave Japan at 9:00 Monday night to arrive at LAX by 3:00 Sunday afternoon.

So Wednesday night I dreamt I flew down to my mother's house in Long Beach on a Friday night, exhausted from all the recent stress. So I went to bed and woke up in the morning -- but it turned out it was Sunday morning! I asked my mother why she didn't wake me sooner, and she said I looked so tired she decided to let me sleep an extra day.

I wonder if I was under all this stress and decided to fly to Japan instead of England, if I might dream I went to bed on Sunday night and slept till Friday morning, two days earlier. Would that make one more exhausted, or would the reversal of time cancel out the extra need for sleep?

Did you grow a beard while you slept?

It might be dangerous if time moved backward while you slept; oversleep, and you'd be condemned to live the same waking nightmare over and over again. If you fell asleep aboard an airplane (or, for a wider window of opportunity, a ship) just as you crossed the International Date Line, which way would time move? Would it stand still? Somewhere in the solar system is there an International Year Line that we can cross to go back and correct our mistakes or relive our adventures? And somewhere in the galaxy an International Millennium Line that would plunge us back into the Dark Ages? Somewhere in the universe an International Eon Line that we could cross to rub shoulders with our hominid ancestors or giant reptiles?

Perhaps that happens on the day I missed in my dream last night!

And on the same subject of missing days and hours, here's another exchange from a year and a half ago:

Today started out with bad signs. When I left the house on my bicycle, the cloudy morning was still so dark that I contemplated using my headlight. It must be time for a clock change. Strangely, our well-intentioned receptionist reminded us, "Don't forget to turn the clocks back this week-end. We don't want to be late for work on Monday." I wouldn't mind being late (I frequently am), but this weekend I would hate to miss out on the chance of that extra hour of sleep. Actually, I'm taking Monday off to ride the Wine Train with my sister. So, in a way, I'm turning my clock back a day, so that Monday doesn't come until Tuesday.

What a good idea! Let's propose a "weekend savings time." On some Thursday during the year we'll turn our calendars a day ahead, and the weekend will arrive. Then on a Sunday six months later (or maybe every month), we'll turn the calendar back, and it will be Saturday again. Maybe the U.S. Government will propose setting the calendars back several months in 1999 to postpone the Millennium Bug.

Of course, we'll have to make sure that this day-shifting does not disrupt your deadlines for the Double Shot Buzz and Pint Pleasures updates.

Yes, yes! I could use an extra Friday this week. Although since you, along with many others, have to work on Friday, let's just make it an extra Saturday. I intend to spend the whole day Saturday at a book festival, but I need an extra day besides today to work on my web pages. So let's make tomorrow the extra Saturday, and I'll just work and you can take it off, and then we'll both have the additional Saturday off.

Sound good?

And then, six months from now, we can pick a Monday somewhere to skip.