October 11, 2012

I'm Running 50 Miles Soon, So Here Is Some Mostly Unrelated Stuff

Wearing compression socks while writing is not a performance enhancer, as demonstrated by the quality of this lead sentence and the fact that I misspelled "enhancer" the first time around, only to be corrected by that handy little red line that protects whatever integrity as a legit writer I have.

But I am wearing a pair, because there is a 50-mile race on Saturday, and I'm doing it. If this doesn't seem to logically follow, let me just say that I'm not reaping any physical benefits by wearing them; I simply like to have them on, like a little kid who won't take his shoulder pads off after his first football practice.

Also, coffee things: I've been training a lot of people lately, and searching for a viable "milk" that is neither dairy nor soy.

The former is going well. Training is easy, really, to the point where I can't believe it was ever a source of anxiety. You show a little, tell even less, then let them practice. Then, when mistakes are made, make corrections (without being a dick). Repeat this for a few hours, and then a few days, and significant progress will have been made.

Perhaps I shouldn't say so, lest I threaten my job security, but it's really not terribly hard to elevate someone to competence as a barista. Of course, competence is not excellence. That requires practice on a longer timeline, and a refined feel for your machine, espresso, and milk. That can neither be taught nor rushed; it must simply be earned by putting in the hours.

The non-dairy/soy milk search is going less well. Almond milk refuses to accept any air whatsoever, getting sudsy and oh, bitter as well. Coconut milk, while a little better, still doesn't texture properly, and the flavor is far too pronounced. Rice milk is predictably thin and bland, doing little more than watering down the espresso.

There are other options, liquids made from hemp, oats, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, etc. I've not tried them, and given the results thus far, I'm not keen to.

So, why bother? Because people ask. Not many, but enough. There are those who can't or won't drink dairy, which I understand. (Lactose intolerance is quite common, and some people would just rather be nice to cows. Legit concerns, both.) Soy avoidance confuses me slightly more, though I've heard all manner of reasons for it. Suffice it to say, people are allowed their neurosis, and if possible, I'd like to help indulge it.

But so far, I just can't. Or rather, I can't find a viable dairy/soy substitute. I can offer them a premium beverage that is gluten/soy/sugar/egg/lactose free, however: Coffee. Black coffee. It really is a miracle beverage, even enhancing endurance performance to a greater extent than compression socks.

There. I brought it around.

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