Wednesday, January 27 2021

courtney, my office mate, and chef rodney

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Wednesday. Have you checked on your coffee machine today?

We're on day three of a broken coffee maker. Given how passionate my family is about these Technivorm Moccamasters, all it took was just a single mention of hard water to set our online chat ablaze. Several people are typing.

"Call Courtney," advised my dad. "She knows her stuff, she helped us with ours."

We called the Technivorm customer support line. A woman named Courtney answered. In a quaint, soothing phone conversation, Courtney got us back on the right track. Have you ever met someone who just gives you the sense that they've explained the same thing to people day in and day out, and yet they still get joy from it? People like Courtney are angels and they should be revered in the world of customer support.

Courtney told us that filtered water isn't necessarily a requirement for their machines. It certainly makes it easier, but as long as the water is drinkable it will brew coffee just fine.

"How often do you de-scale your machine?" she asked.

I leaned into the phone. "Once a month," I said proudly. "We brew two batches per day, so it's on the more frequent side."

Courtney wanted to know what brand of de-scaling agent we used. I handed Marissa a packet and she read the label into the phone.

The problem, indeed, was the type of de-scaling solution we were buying. Courtney explained that most brands are just general sanitizers. They remove grease and oil much like regular soap, and it's still an important part of the cleaning cycle. But these are not de-scaling agents, even if there is vague verbiage on the box like "removes lime" and "gently disolves mineral deposits".

Courtney read off an approved brand. Marissa, with Amazon open, punched each word into the search bar. "Urnex. Dezcal. De-scaling," she recited aloud. As it happened, I had already ordered the exact brand we needed the night it broke. In a buying panic that only a broken coffee maker could induce, I ordered four boxes.

Last night, as instructed, we turned on the coffee maker just long enough for the internal coil to fill with real de-scaling solution. We let it sit overnight. I turned it on again while getting ready for the day, but no dice. That's OK, this is just phase one of Courtney's master plan.

So in the meantime, I begin every morning by acquiring coffee from somewhere in town. On Monday, I shamefully ordered Starbucks from a hotel (making for a hilariously long drive for Dan, the driver). On Tuesday, I drove across the street to Moka. This morning, I had a little more time to work with, so I drove to Starbucks - the one that's actually buy me, not the one across town at the Double Tree hotel.

I've enjoyed these morning drives. I have to move some things around in my morning to still have time to write, but getting out on the quiet snowy road isn't a bad way to start the day. And I'm back on espresso too. Jet black pulled right over ice cubes, just like I used to drink it in college.

Sip. It's been a great week. Nothing beats the week after ticket duty. Ticket duty is like working double time as a slack concierge and a devops firefighter. The week after ticket duty, all the meetings and questions disappear. Suddenly you have all day to quietly work on normal, planned things. I call it the "after ticket duty afterglow", and it's an incredible feeling.

I'm also delighted to get my office mate back. Ollie likes to sit upstairs in our bedroom while I work. Marissa and I think he likes the productive atmosphere. Maybe it's the quiet thunk of my keyboard, or the warm morning sun shining through our bedroom window.

Ollie took some time off for the holidays. I didn't see him up there for most of December and well into January. I'm happy for him that he was able to take a long hiatus. He was missed, but we don't want him to burn out either. I'm glad he's keeping his work-life balance in check.

2021 01 27 office cheese

His official title is "The Big Cheese"

For dinner, we had potato gnocchi. As usual I made too much dough. After some convincing, I broke Rodney out of his Ryan's World trance to help in the kitchen. I pulled his stepladder up to the counter and handed him the leftover ball of sticky dough. Rodney immediately asked for more tools.

"I need that thing," he said, closing one eye and pointing to the back wall.

I reached for a wooden spoon. "This thing?" I asked.

"No, that thing," he said frustrated. With my finger tips, I moved the spoon aside and raised the rubber spatula.

"No," said Rodney.

I presented whisk.

"No," said Rodney.

I showed him the other wooden spoon, the spider, and the tongs.

"No, dada," said Rodney. "Not in that thing."

I scooted the upright bin aside.

"That thing," repeated Rodney.

I picked up the rolling pin. Rodney smiled and reached for it. I pulled it away.

"Rolling... pin," I said. Rodney repeated it.

2021 01 27 chef rodney

Rodney is an expert at making messes with gnocchi dough. He firsts likes to add a full cup of flour. He bunches it all up together in a shaggy mess, then rolls it out flat against the table. He bunches the flat sheet up into a mound again. I don't usually watch past that point, but I can tell you it's a lot of smashing and chopping with the pastry cutter. Satisfied with his creation, he presented me a ball of wet dough stuffed into a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter.

"Looks perfect, dude," I said. "Thanks for helping, Chef Rodney."

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great day, everyone.