Monday, April 28, 2008

saving people from the fire

As I made the usual right-hand turn into our alley way with Jambo riding in my lap I noticed a blazing fire next to the shed of one of our neighbors. The flames were rising up to 8 feet high. No one was in sight. It was time for me to go into hero mode. I dialed 911. As I talked to the operator I simultaneously knocked on the front door of the home in question and was only greeted by their rodent-looking dog. After locating the garden hose and facet I sprung into action. Weaseling my way through the fence, stepping on nail-studded loose boards I systematically drenched the fire, procuring safety for hundreds if not thousands in our metropolis. Finally the firetruck arrived and those inside jumped to action. There was no heroic effort needed on their part by this time. They thanked me for serving Manhattan, KS that day. Don't consider me a hero folks. I was only doing my duty. The only regret I have is not taking more pictures to document a day in the life of Ben Deaver.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Spread of Coffee to the Christian World

Coffee had been a part of Arab culture for centuries but not so in the western European world. Venetian fleets sailed the known world trading spices, silks, and perfumes with the East. It is believed that coffee come to Venice from Constantinople as part of this trade. There was only one problem. When the drink reached Rome the priest attacked it and forbid it consumption.

The priests believed that the coffee was the drink of the devil. That Satan had invented the drink for the Moslem infidels as a substitute for the wine they were forbidden to drink. Since wine in the Western Christian world was sanctified by Christ and used in Holy communion, coffee must then be of the Anti-Christ. If a Christian drank this devil brew they would risk eternal damnation is how the argument went.

It wasn't until the late 1500's that Pope Clement VIII settled the dispute. He asked that the brew be brought before him. Intrigued by its powerful aroma, he sipped the coffee. It was delicious. The Pope blessed the coffee, and baptized it on the spot. He reasoned that banishing this drink from the Christian world would be a larger sin. With the Pope's blessing, imports of coffee to Italy and the Western world came flooding in paving the way for the first western coffee houses.

The English word "Coffee" comes from the Latin name of the genus Coffea. The genus Coffea is a member of the Rubiaceae family which has over 500 genera and 6,000 species that are largely tropical trees and shrubs. All species of Coffea are woody and range in size from small shrubs to trees over 30 feet tall. The species Coffea arabica gives us the arabica beans known the world over. Arabica beans are largely drunk on their own where as the Coffea robusta is usually a lower grade bean used primarily as a blend with arabica beans to make them go farther.