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The Tea Ball Spins a Tale

For Christmas last year, I received a lot of tea. This is fine. I would be happy even if all my Christmas presents were tea, with the occasional book. Among these things were many bags of fine teas from The Coffee & Tea Exchange from my sister-in-law, which I have only just begun trying, and the very much beloved extra large bag of Numi's Chinese Breakfast from the husband, which I still occasionally hug in lieu of my cat. I'm not usually a big fan of Chinese blends (particularly the ones meant for cream and sugar) because they're often too smoky for me. I drink most of my Chinese teas neat out of habit, as this was what was done when I was growing up. Indian, Ceylonese and Malaysian teas are drunk with cream and sugar. But Numi's Chinese Breakfast is a lovely citrusy tea that like most of Numi's loose leaf teas, is dark and strong. It withstands oversteeping, and finds low fat milk, as I do, weirdly watery.

The last couple of days have seen me trying out the various Assams I got over Christmas. Adagio's Assam is strong if you like weak teas, and weak if you like your teas at Necronomicon strength. It had no discernible flavour that I could tell. Tastes like a full-bodied tea. TCTE's Assam reminds me of the spirit of Northern Indian cuisine, which is probably correct, since Assam makes good chai. It was a strong, bold tea, with no delicacy but no offensive qualities either. It's good round flavour means it can take on the flavours you add to it well. In my case, cream and sugar works, in the way that Northern Indian food absorbs creams, yoghurts and spices so well.

Tried out an intriguing bag of TCTE tea called Tsarina Samovar today. I've never tried a Russian-style blend before. Upon opening the bag, I was beset by a mildly rose perfume that made me wonder if this was a floral blend. Shook the bag a bit, saw no rose petals, and it started smelling delightful. Less floral, a little like watered down oranges, and familiar. I couldn't place where I smelled this before. Stood around in the kitchen, huffing the bag of tea, trying to figure out what it was to no avail. With hot water on top, this tea took on a strong, mildly smoky bouquet, like a solid black tea. I cheered. This would be perfect with milk and sugar, and it was. The flavour reminds me of my childhood, of the pot of milked and sugared tea I prepared at the end of the fast during Ramadan for my family.

Our end-of-the-year saw some pretty harrowing moments. Remember our anniversary at a hotel by the sea? I called in a week ahead of time, upon discovering Hotel Vitale was pet-friendly, to find out if we could bring along Sif. The reservationist I spoke to assured me yes, they welcomed cats. The day we were meant to check in (read: our anniversary), I was stuck working till past four in the afternoon. We were due at 5:30PM, with a dinner reservation across the street from the hotel at six. We got there barely making it at about a quarter after five. Sif spent the trip across town crying in sheer misery. When we arrived, she continued to occasionally squeak aloud, displeased with her disposition. The concierge took a look at us and said, "I'm sorry, but we don't take cats." We were all very deeply unhappy. It took some wrangling, but we decided to salvage what we could of our anniversary. We got the concierge to call the restaurant on our behalf, to push up the reservation for later that night, and Seth took the job of driving our cat against bridge traffic home. Dinner was nice, barring the odd couple sitting next to us. Older yuppies. We suspected they were there on some kind of blind date. The crowd at this upscale but smart casual restaurant was mixed between men in suits and families in less formal wear. When Seth left the table to use the bathroom, I overheard the couple discussing the inappropriateness of the clothing people wore around them. The woman said she thought, "That guy's wearing jeans." And the man replied, "Really? Where? I should give him a piece of my mind."

Seth had a Chimay. I had a Dark & Stormy, which I learned to love after having it at a friend's fundraising event once. It was that kind of night. I glowered, thought that if the man got up and accosted my husband, I'd give him a piece of my mind. That did not occur. Bald, scrawny men in glasses with women who might be their mothers on dates do not compare to my husband.

The next morning, we called reception at our hotel to complain. The concierge (a different person from the evening before) was very kind, and offered to book us in for Thanksgiving dinner at the hotel restaurant. She single-handedly saved our trip. We decided to make the best of our planned 2-night stay. Our room wasn't great -- a weird, U-shaped corner lot facing the street, with a narrow Queen-sized bed and a sofa that looked uncomfortable sitting in this remnant wedge of room next to it. The remaining leg of the U was taken up by the impressive bathroom, with a great shower and awesome tub. I should note that I chose the room precisely because of the tub. Seth was having chronic back pains from work stress, and I was having chronic neck pains from the same. The tub helped a great deal, and the bed made us miserable.

We had breakfast at this traditional seafood place called Sinbad's, which was one of the few places open on Thanksgiving. I had a goblet of Dungeness for breakfast, because I was feeling decadent. Crab makes me happy. We hung out in our room, playing on consoles, reading, soaking in the tub. Thanksgiving dinner was very good, but I have no idea how we ate as much as we did. Both of us felt uncomfortably full afterwards. Good turkey, nice sides, an entire dessert tray at the end, and drinks from the bar while we waited for our seat. We had gone in prepared to at least pay for our drinks, but the hotel absorbed it. It was a pleasant surprise. Once again, the concierge really did save our trip.

Christmas, you know. We were snowed in. My in-laws were kind enough to have us stay a little longer, while airlines were throwing up their hands in the air and despairing over the weather. There was a charming sleigh ride through the snowy woods, which neither I nor the spouse were truly clothed for, so we froze and tried to protect each other from the cold, while I noticed how structurally amazing snow is on bare boughs and how tiny and jewel-like wild blueberries were dried on the bush. There was hot cider at the end, and fluffy, cute birds. When we got home, our cat remembered who we were, and continues to scold us for our sins. She's only just gotten past that stage where she is anxious all the time, and wants attention all the time, and this is not a cat who is easily distracted from her troubles.

The year is off to a some kind of start, I guess. Weather today has been the sort of thing grim poets slit their wrists in. I believe I should know. Listened to random opera and a wee bit of musicals while I typed up notes. Our apartment has surprisingly good acoustics for that. I can only play that sort of music during the day, while the neighbours are probably too busy to be bothered, and the husband is at work, and thus free of being horrified. (I tried watching a DVD of Madame Butterfly once late at night. Kept worrying the neighbours would call the cops on me for noise pollution.) Phrase of the day is "midget porn". It goes well with the SDLC. You'll find out why in your SKMS, because we all know systems design is about hiding information behind acronyms. (In college, I thought it was all about making fancy charts and normalisation. How times change.)


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 12th, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)
The 'midget porn' thing comes from this online course I'm taking for work - it has a stew of various business management words that all describe basic functions, (like Service Knowledge Management System instead of, say, Knowledge Base) and there is a lot of terminology and then they quiz you on that. Sometimes it's multiple choice and you can kind of suss out the answer, but sometimes it's just a line you have to type.

Unless you take copious notes and memorize every damned term (many of which reuse a lot of words all over again, so you have to redefine how Service Operations Manager is different from Service Operations Level Management for example) you have to type in some answer to continue.

So I type in 'midget porn'.

For example:

"The Service Transition Phase of the IT Services Lifestyle is characterized first by __________________"

The answer is "Service Asset and Configuration Management" but I just put in "midget porn" so I can keep going.
Jan. 12th, 2011 03:08 am (UTC)
We also suspect they have two tables filled with words somewhere, and the e-learning program randomizes combinations between the tables.

But everyone knows midget porn drives all systems everywhere. It is the secret to creating great databases.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )