Ode to an Italian Coffeemaker

Pictured above is my Gaggia Carezza espresso machine.

I bought it off of a recommendation on Amazon a couple of years ago. It’s more than lived up to the recommendation and to my expectations.

It makes splendid espresso. You can pull shot after shot with perfect crema without any fuss. The milk steamer works nicely, steaming up a pint of milk with a thick foam in less than a minute.

It’s very simple to use. Gaggia felt compelled to send not only two different instruction manuals, but also included a video on a CD. But all you do is warm it up, press one button to pull your shots, press another button to generate steam, twist a knob to steam milk, and that’s it. It’s also very easy to clean, and to get parts for. I managed to lose milk steamer nozzle and got a replacement in a few days from WholeLatteLove.

At work we make latte each morning. We’ve been doing this for 10+ years now. We’re on our 4th Krups pump espresso machine. The model numbers and case style change over the years, but the machines are essentially the same. They’re nice machines, but for nearly the same price – I paid $150 for the last Krups machine and $200 for my Gaggia – the Gaggia is head and shoulders above the Krups in terms of quality of coffee produced.

I whole-heartedly recommend the Gaggia Carezza for daily use. And WholeLatteLove for all your on-line coffee shopping.

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Does anybody think the current cheap, crass, commercial Bowl Championship Series is better than what it replaced? The FedEx Bowl, the Allstate Bowl, the Tostitos Bowl, the Rose Bowl. Is that somehow better than the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl? Those bowls generated interest, excitement, controversy , and honored tradition. I remember watching football until I was numb on New Year’s Day 1974. But do I care that USC is ahead of Michigan, 0.951 to 0.917 in the current BCS standings? [email protected]#$% no!

It used to at least maintain a myth of the student-athlete and gridiron glory for the alma mater. Now it is what is, a way to sell taco chips. Enjoy. I’ll be eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, and not watching football.

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Harvest Home

We brought the harvest home on Friday. 600 acres of beans and 250 acres of corn in the bin, and 125 acres of wheat in the ground for next year.

Zumbrun Farms has been in the same place since 1916 when my great-grandfather purchased the 140 acres we call the ‘home farm’.

I’d been out of the farming business since 1982 when I left to try something different and ended up writing software for 25 years. But I returned to the farm this fall. My younger brother Dave had been running the farm since my father retired. Dave died unexpectedly and suddenly this summer, the result of a blood clot from a torn muscle of all things. One of the most robust people I’ve ever known, felled by a torn muscle. It makes no sense and 4 months later we’re stll in shock.

My sister-in-law talked of renting the farms. Grain prices are strong, and the competition for land is heavy around here. She could’ve rented it all out and been financially comfortable just cashing the rental checks. Or she could’ve sold the farms and been wealthy. But she didn’t like the idea of turning the farm over to someone outside the family, so she and I talked it over and decided she and I would do the farming.

So yesterday, racing yet another episode of bad weather in one of the wettest falls anyone can remember, we brought the harvest home.

Written in memory of my brother Dave, a farmer.

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Still in Saigon, segue

I was dining at one of my favorite restaurants, A Taste of India, mentioned here: http://zumbrun.net/chuck/?page_id=6 and I noticed a basket of fake flowers. What caught my eye was the tag on the basket that said, “Made in Vietnam.” Just over 30 years ago we considered the North Vietnamese enough of a threat to lead the slaughter of over 1.5 million people to keep them out of South Vietnam.

Now we buy baskets from them…

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Checkerberry Inn – R.I.P.

We went to the Checkerberry Inn, or more accurately, their Citrus restaurant, recently. I’m reluctant to write about it, the owner said they’re closing the Inn and Citrus at the end of the year. But since it’s only March, here goes.

Checkerberry Inn is as about in the middle of nowhere as you can get in northeastern Indiana. More or less 60 minutes from both Fort Wayne and South Bend.

The decor is an eclectic mish-mash, ranging from hideous to elegant. Try to ignore it.

The food more than makes up for the decor. Steaks, seafood, desserts, appetizers, salads, and sides, all excellent. Their wine list, while not huge, has many nice selections and reasonable prices.

Service was first rate. Despite being a busy Friday night, the owner, one waitress, and one bus boy kept the service right on the beat.

Citrus is more than worth the drive from Fort Wayne. If you’re entertaining guests from out of the area the drive through Amish country will be a treat for them.

Just go before the end of 2006.

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This would’ve been my first post…

I wrote my first post, typed and typed and typed and edited carefully.  Being my first I was wanting to get it right.  I was finally happy with it, pressed the “Save” button, and boom  I was sitting at the login screen.    All that work lost.  Evidently WordPress decided to end my session based on inactivity because all I had been doing was typing, not interacting with the server.

Why, why, why do people write software like that?  That’ll be a theme discussed in a later post.

Sigh, well, live and learn and press the “Save and Continue Editing” button often.  Or since it’s open source perhaps I’ll waste a couple hours of my life and dig through the source and see if I can fix it.

Which reminds me of the aphorism, “The only thing more expensive than commercial software is open source software.”   Maybe I’ll just go download CityDesk.

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