March 6th, 2009


Coffee and memes

The happiness meme from ceph and coraa

1. Post about something that made you happy today even if it's just a small thing.
2. Do this every day for a week without fail.
3. Tag 8 of your friends to do the same. i'm it! (I hate tagging, it's everything i don't want to be =P)

I expect i'm gonna fail on point 2, but since i already had something i wanted to post about today that made me happy i figured i might as well sign up for the meme at the same time :)

I do not like Starbucks coffee. I think they burn their beans to a crisp and as a result it tastes like crap. (I've also heard conspiracy theories that the reason they burn their beans to a crisp is because they can use cheaper low quality beans that way without people being able to tell the difference. I have no idea if there's any basis to the rumor or not though.)

I am also from Seattle. My parents drink lots of coffee. I actually have memories from when i was a kid (shock! horror!) of us going to the coffee shop in Southcenter (Southcenter! Not Westfield whatever-the-hell!) where they would buy beans and get them ground. Therefore it seemed entirely reasonable to me, from the limited perception of my very small sample size, that Seattle got a reputation as a coffee mecca. What _still_ weirds me out though is that the symbol of Seattle coffee in the popular perception is Starbucks. The fact that so many coffee shops want to try to be like Starbucks now seems like a crime against something-or-other.

Well i finally figured out a way of thinking about the issue that i can relate to. It doesn't make me happy about the situation, but it makes me happy that i can understand it. And it can be summed up as a simple SAT type question analogy.

Seattle - Rest of US - Coffee - Starbucks
US - Rest of world - Hamburgers - McDonalds

Very few people inside the US are going to argue that McDonalds is the best of all possible hamburgers. I think just about everyone will agree that you can get something better at a real restaurant, and many of us probably think that you can even get something better and equally cheap just by picking a different fast food joint. (My favorite being In-n-Out of course.) And it seems likely that someone from someplace like Texas may have an even more extreme version of that bias (although perhaps they think that grinding up fresh beef to make hamburgers rather than having it as a steak is an abomination, i don't actually know.)

However McDonalds is _the_ icon for American hamburgers in particular and American fast food in general around the world. There may very well be places in the world where McDonalds is the only place to get hamburgers. There may be places in the world where McDonalds is the only way to get any kind of "American cuisine" at all.

Perhaps people from those areas would be shocked to hear many Americans say "McDonalds? Well it's cheap and ubiquitous, but i'd rather have something better than that if i can find it and afford it."

Starbucks has succeeded for exactly the same reasons McDonalds has succeeded, and offers the exact same quality for the iconic product for which its home region is famous. Which isn't really a brilliant deduction, but it's nice to be able to put things into some perspective :)

Race for the Galaxy

This is a post that will interest no one. Well, maybe one or two people, but no one else will even understand it :) But anyways, i think i've figured out just about the perfect game of Race for the Galaxy in the two player variant. There may be a somewhat stronger way to go (shelleycat did get within about eight points of me) but i expect there aren't any other ways as elegant, what with the game ending in five rounds :)

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