Category Archives: Time Savers

Cold Drip Coffee

Have you heard of “cold drip coffee” before? If you like drinking coffee, here’s a way to make great tasting coffee that has a few advantages over the regular way of making coffee.

I use a Toddy cold drip coffee maker. It consists of only three parts. There’s the soaking container, a filter that fits in the bottom of that container, and a glass carafe to drain the coffee into. The plastic soaking container is about the size of a large popcorn bucket from the multiplex. The bottom of the soaker has a bottleneck for the felt filter that’s about the size of a large cookie. This bottleneck on the soaker’s bottom also fits the mouth of the glass carafe for draining the coffee when it’s time.

I’ve been making cold drip coffee for years, it’s really simple. First, after inserting a filter in the bottom of the soaking container, add about two liters (quarts) of room temperature water. Next, put in a pound of coarse (not fine) ground coffee on top of the water; but don’t stir in the coffee grounds, let the ground coffee soak into the water. That’s it, now allow the mix to soak for between 12 and 24 hours. Then pull the small plug on the bottom of the soaking container and let gravity drain it into the carafe. You’ll get about a liter and a half of delicious coffee concentrate that can last three weeks in the fridge.

Put the concentrate into the fridge and spread the grounds on your garden (or in the trash). Take out the filer and give it a though rinsing under the tap before putting it into the fridge for the next time. If you rinse the filter well and refrigerate it in water, you’ll be able to use it for months.

The cold drip coffee is also about 60% less acidic than brewed coffee because no heat is used to make the coffee. The flavor profile will be richer and less bitter-tasting than brewed coffee. There even a bit less caffeine too. The system was developed in 1964 by a chemical engineer at Cornell University.

There are all kinds of uses for the coffee concentrate. You can dilute it or not (I don’t) to the strength you like,  then ice it or heat it (stove top or microwave), or use it in recipes calling for coffee.

There are hundreds of coffee houses and cafes using cold drip coffee for their iced coffee. I even sell Thai style iced cold drip coffee here in Mexico at the fledgling farmers’ market on Saturday mornings in our little town.

Iced coffee is what we make most often at home. I usually premix the coffee with milk and Half and Half in a two liter bottle. Drinking coffee doesn’t get any more tasty and convenient than that.

EVERYTHING I KNOW I LEARNED IN PRISON

That’s what it said on a bumper sticker on the car in front of me. I’ve never been in prison and hope I can always say that. But it’s a funny sticker.

I’m sure there’re some clever people locked up, and they have lots of time to kill. And prisons seem like they have a “survival of the fittest” thing going, right?

If you were in a restricted space with no access to a gym, eventually the best exercise for those circumstances bubbles up to the surface. The knowledge would be passed along from prisoner to prisoner and refined along the way. So workouts would have been through many iterations of lots of different exercises to arrive at something that’s the most effective. I can’t be sure it’s true; but there’s an exercise that supposedly comes out of the prison experience.

The exercise is called a Burpee pushup. It’s an exercise I do and like. With Burpee pushups you’ll really get the most bang for your buck. It’s an especially effective exercise to do if (unlike a prisoner) you don’t have much time or (like a prisoner) have a limited space. Say you’re traveling, staying in a hotel room and don’t have much time before a meeting. Do some Burpee pushups in your room, take a shower, and scoot off to your meeting, all in a very short time. Of course, they’re great to do at home too.

Here’s how they’re done. Drop down into the starting position for a pushup. Do a pushup. At the top of the pushup when your arms are straightening, jump your feet forward so your knees are at your chest and you’re in a crouching position. Then leap up, reaching for the ceiling with you hands. As you land, bend over, put your hands on the floor and pop your feet back so you’re in the starting  position for a pushup again. That’s one rep.

If you’d like, you can find videos of Burpee pushups on YouTube. Here’s one I like.

How many to do? Well, this is what I’d recommend and how many I do. Usually twenty one. But not all at once. I do only one at first; then I wait one minute; and then I do two; wait one minute then do three … and follow this pattern. I usually stop after the sixth minute/sixth set, which would at this point, have me doing six Burpee pushups during the last set. Adding up all six sets we have: 1+2+3+4+5+6=21. Twenty one reps of a hard exercise in six minutes and I’m done!

The other nice thing about doing it this way is you get a warm-up in there too. Sure, you can do more than one, but start with just one and go through adding a rep to each set.

This pattern of the rep number equaling the set number is called a “ladder.”  You can scale it up or down to suit your situation; and you can use it for other exercises too.

I have a feel for the time now but I usually use a cool little interval timer called the Gym Boss. It’s cheap, $20, easy to use, and keeps you honest. Of course you can use a watch or maybe a kitchen timer. The GymBoss is just easy and you can set any interval time you wish to use. Plus, it counts the number of intervals for you too. Just do your workout and listen for the beeps (it has a vibrate mode too in case you’re stealthy or in a loud area). Side note: An interval timer is handy for other exercises too because you can work out for timed sets, which is a more effective method.

At first, start out doing a couple of minutes worth and work up to six (or more) minutes. Don’t over do it and you’ll keep it up. Burpee pushups are a really good, quick, and surprisingly effective exercise.

Teashop Takeaway

Recently, I watched a video of a panel disscussion that was shot in a San Francisco teashop. It was a public talk about “life management” featuring the shop owner and three guest speakers. Two of the guest speakers were Leo Babauta and Tim Ferriss and they provided the bulk of the interesting ideas.

Both of these guys have very popular blogs, generally addressing how to optimize your life, although each has a different presentation style. Looked at from a high school yearbook voting perspective, Leo would’ve been voted most likely to become a writer; and Tim would’ve been pigeonholed as most likely to succeed. You could imagine one is a tea drinker and the other a coffee drinker.

With success, they’ve risen in prominence and demands on their time have increased forcing them to more tightly focus on what works best to enable them to be productive while living non-harried lives.

Leo recently moved to San Francisco from Guam with his wife and six kids. Tim is a single San Franciscan and self-described as hyperactive in many endeavors with a penchant for traveling. They manage very different lives, plus each has to control their time eaters.

The video is an hour and a half long and most people won’t geek out for that long; so I’ll present what I think are some of their top takeaway ideas for making their lives better.

-Low Info Diet – To confront information overload, Tim deals with info on a “just in time” (only when info directly affects him) basis. This is in contrast to a  “just in case” style (taking in as much info as possible). Most situations covered by  high info consumption rarely arise. He says he “tries to get to the bottom of things, not stay on top of things.” If they miss something that’s important,  it’ll be brought to your attention as it bubbles to the surface in conversation.

– Keeping Up – The need to keep up with everything and everyone is self-created. If the expectation from other people is that you probably won’t get back to them generally they will not harass you unless it’s important.

-Single-tasking – You will have a saner and calmer life if you single-task. Do one thing end to end.

-Prioritizing – On getting things done, they both single-task, concentrating on getting the one, most important thing for that day done before doing anything else on their to-do-list. What is the most important thing to do? Probably the most uncomfortable one. Another test for importance is: if that one thing is the only thing you get done, you’ll feel your day’s still a success.

-Worrying – Worrying is not the same as preparing. The things most people worry about don’t usually even happen.

-Control – Everything is always changing, so try to give up trying to control things and be flexible instead.

-Slowness – Build-in or schedule slowness into your week and have those blocks of time become fixed, with other activities coming second. For example, Tim will not change a hike or dinner date if there are three or more friends getting together. These built-in times also act as a bracket, creating an ending point for the day.

-Big Shots – With success, Tim found he’s been welcomed into rarefied business circles,  there he’s been surprised how most of the hyper-successful individuals are relaxed and casual in most of their life dealings, able to concentrate on “the one most important” task in a day and accomplish it. These people weren’t the frazzled people you might imagine; being overwhelmed doesn’t fix anything, you need to have clear priorities.

-Routines – Develop routines, rituals, and routines to simplify your life. Routines will save your limited decision-making time since you won’t have those routine decisions to make.

-Habits – You’ll need to do something new at least five times before it will set in  as a habit, and stop just being an experiment. People generally respond to a better habit.

-Motivation – Rather than having to depend on discipline, motivation works as a better incentive. If you know your friend is waiting for you to go for a walk, you’re more likely to do it.

-Focus – Focus on your breathing to help you see what’s going on right now since your breathing is a constant and an easy thing to latch onto to bring yourself back to the present.

Lots of good stuff here I think. Too much for one post, so Tuesday I’ll post the second half.  If you like the ideas so far, give the video a look in case I missed some points that might mean more to you.


What? An Electric Toothbrush?

I visited Africa once and saw Kenyans in the bush massaging their teeth with small twigs. I asked a guy about it and he said they use a twig from the olivewood tree as a toothbrush. Their teeth looked pretty good. I tried it and it seemed to work well enough. But an olivewood twig is tough to come by in these parts. Also, it could’ve just been they weren’t eating lots of sweets.

Enter the electric toothbrush.

When I first heard about it I thought what could be more bourgeois and useless. Was it like the electric carving knife of personal hygiene? I mean, how difficult could it possibly be to slice a turkey? And you only need to do it twice a year, tops.

The concept of an electric toothbrush reminded me of Canadian columnist, Heather Mallick, commenting  that “… the (increasing number of) devices have one aim: to make even the smallest movement unnecessary.”

Then I was given an electric toothbrush many years ago as a gift… Jesus, an electric toothbrush! What’s next the AAA battery-powered toothpick?

But I have to cowboy up and admit I was wrong. I tried it and it worked much better than manual brushing and I grew to enjoy using it. Plus I cut back on dentist visits since my teeth and gums became healthier.

I’m still using an electric toothbrush. As a mater of fact I’ve gone through two of ’em over the years and am now onto my third. I use it at least twice a day. It’s not because I’m too lazy to  manually brush. Actually, I used be a religious little brusher for years before switching over. And when I travel, it’s back to manual, it’s like riding a bicycle, you won’t forget how to do it.

The picture on this post is of my friend Chris who was visiting us in Mexico. After getting ready for a party he decided to brush his teeth before heading out. As you can see, he likes his electric toothbrush so much he even travels with his.

So you never know.

Bob Dylan went electric back in the Sixties and his music changed for the better. I went electric in the nineties and my teeth are whiter and stronger.