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The Cheery Metro Driver: There’s this one driver I sometimes get on the Orange Line who is notable for his cheeriness. In the morning, he has a spiel that includes things like, "as I always say, think great, be great." In the afternoon / evening, he has something to say at each stop, e.g. "Clarendon welcomes you," or "Ballston greets you with a warm hug." It’s silly, but it does make me smile.


Retirement Planning: My company is changing our retirement plan. I took advantage of a free consultation with Fidelity on the options for the new 401(K). I don’t think I learned much I didn’t already know, but it did help me figure out what to sign up for. The thing I am still unsure about is what to do with the existing 403(B). I can leave things where they are or roll them over to an IRA. I think leaving them where they are makes the most sense, because there are some pre-1987 contributions, which have different rules re: required minimum distributions. On the other hand, that increases the complexity of the calculations and it may not make that much of a difference.

Coffee Makers: One of my friends asked on facebook for advice about replacing a broken coffee maker. I wrote:

I'm usually making coffee just for myself, in which case I use the Vietnamese drip coffeemaker I bought for a quarter in the market in Saigon.

But if I am making coffee for a group, I love the Bodum Santos stovetop vacuum coffee maker. It has the advantages of being beautiful and making fabulous coffee, as well as looking complex so it impresses people.


She said that was a very Miriam answer. But to add to it, I actually have a lot of coffee makers, none of them automatic or electric. I use the simple Melitta filter pretty often, too, either letting the coffee drip directly into a mug or into a pot, depending on how many people I am making coffee for. It has two advantages over the Vietnamese drip pot. First, it is faster. But, more importantly, you can just throw out the filter and grounds, instead of having the mess of cleaning grounds out of the coffeemaker. I also have a little plastic drip coffeemaker that I use for extreme travel situations, e.g. camping or visiting relatives who think instant coffee is drinkable. That and a small baggie of coffee I have ground before leaving home has saved my life – and that of the people I was visiting.

The other one I use fairly regularly is an ibrik, i.e. the copper thingie used for making Turkish coffee. That’s quick, but takes a bit of skill. It also requires a much finer grind of coffee beans, which my grinder can’t really achieve, so I have to get the coffee for it ground at the roaster. I think it works best with a darker roast than I normally drink – practically burnt, though not quite Starbucks level of burntness. I recommend using Ethiopian harrar beans, though Yemen moka would be even better if you can find them. (For drip coffee, I primarily use Indonesian coffee beans. Haitian beans are also good for drip coffee.)

I am not a fan of the French press method. And please don’t even mention Keurig in my presence.

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