Coffee

After the boil you wait. Then you pour.
Then you wait again. Three minutes.
And then you press down.
Slowly.

Each morning, I serve myself
a cup of coffee. I smile for my master
who is so free, almost like me

We both saw a full moon last night
and she turned us into a long shadow
so beautiful that I wanted
to dance for it

My master told me: No.
But I danced. Slowly.
It felt like coffee.

Coffee was originally published on Meandering home

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The Virtues of a Virtual Office

The Virtues of a Virtual Office

It’s all about efficiency. Gathering a group of people in an office building to carry out their work, essentially manipulation and dissemination of information has certain benefits. The office gives them a sense of team-spirit, it is easy to cooperate and allocate the right person to the right task. The office is, to quote the infamous Michael Scott of Scranton, “like a family”. This efficiency of a well-run office might still be unbeatable in certain fields, yet in the context of international cooperation, specialized knowledge work, and all-encompassing social media, it just can’t beat the virtual crowd.
My office is a coffeeshop, or rather a cluster of coffeeshops somewhere thirty kilometers south of Seoul. I enjoy a speedy megabit internet connection which enables me to do web development, translations, transcriptions, blogging, and send out a constant stream of competitive job applications, skype calls as well as reseach for my non-profit smart-tech/arts project . Working hours are 11am – 2am, with breaks in between. The arabica is very good and easily fuels a full day of work.
The only downside is probably the repetitive music that hardly ever changes but I have learned to ignore that. Can you compare the overhead costs of a heated office workplace – even a minimized cubicle – with my overhead: occupying a seat in the café when and only when others are available for more zealous cafeine consumers. Point in case: my overhead is zero, my net footprint is limited to the electricity consumption of a small laptop, an equal share in the coffee and information supply chain, the CO2 my body produces during the five minute walk here, and the water I use to flush the urinoir during a leaking break.
Now compare this to the footprint of the average office worker – I don’t need to compile that list. The virtual office is more compatitive than ever and as it gains popularity and recognition it will become the standard. Traditional offices simply won’t be able to compete.

The Virtues of a Virtual Office

The Virtues of a Virtual Office

It’s all about efficiency. Gathering a group of people in an office building to carry out their work, essentially manipulation and dissemination of information has certain benefits. The office gives them a sense of team-spirit, it is easy to cooperate and allocate the right person to the right task. The office is, to quote the infamous Michael Scott of Scranton, “like a family”. This efficiency of a well-run office might still be unbeatable in certain fields, yet in the context of international cooperation, specialized knowledge work, and all-encompassing social media, it just can’t beat the virtual crowd.
My office is a coffeeshop, or rather a cluster of coffeeshops somewhere thirty kilometers south of Seoul. I enjoy a speedy megabit internet connection which enables me to do web development, translations, transcriptions, blogging, and send out a constant stream of competitive job applications, skype calls as well as reseach for my non-profit smart-tech/arts project . Working hours are 11am – 2am, with breaks in between. The arabica is very good and easily fuels a full day of work.
The only downside is probably the repetitive music that hardly ever changes but I have learned to ignore that. Can you compare the overhead costs of a heated office workplace – even a minimized cubicle – with my overhead: occupying a seat in the café when and only when others are available for more zealous cafeine consumers. Point in case: my overhead is zero, my net footprint is limited to the electricity consumption of a small laptop, an equal share in the coffee and information supply chain, the CO2 my body produces during the five minute walk here, and the water I use to flush the urinoir during a leaking break.
Now compare this to the footprint of the average office worker – I don’t need to compile that list. The virtual office is more compatitive than ever and as it gains popularity and recognition it will become the standard. Traditional offices simply won’t be able to compete.

July 19. Train stories #1.

I feel comfortable on the train, playing in my head with reminiscences of my earlier Russian trainrides. The platzkart, the hot water tap, the linen, the short conversations in broken Russian, the angry looking young men, the smiling women – it is all the same here in the far east. The train rolls through endless empty green fields on its way to Chabarovsk. It’s a beautiful day. I open the Italian coffee I brought. At the moment I pinch through the vacuum foil with the tip of my scissors and it releases a short sigh, a child in one of the compartments cries. You know I always associated coffee with devil’s piss and believe every myth as long as caffeine intake is secured. I cut a slit into the coffee package, a large life-giving slit, and toss some coffee in a plastic mug I prepared with my knife from a bottle. It’s real coffee of course, not the soluble rabbit dung they sell for convenience. I avoid that whenever possible. I’m talking real coffee, real Italian coffee distributed to the Ukraine, Russia, Moldova and Kazachstan. I pour hot water on it. The train attendant gives me a glass mug, I get upgraded. Back on my seat, the coffee tastes like it should. The child is silent, playing with his mother and uttering only satisfied toddler wawls. A woman is making the puzzles in a newspaper; most people are sleeping when we arrive in Verino.

Movie of the day: transsiberian.
I really watch this movie sitting on the transsiberian train myself. It is great to see the waggons on my computer screen sitting in a real one, and when a murderer appears in the movie, it gets an extra dimension. I liked the acting by Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley. The photography of Russia is beautiful and close to reality. The plot has the right level of complexity to make the movie entertaining. Its climax is a bit exaggerated, but not out of control. If you have a sense of nostalgia for trains and road-movies, I guess you’ll like this one.

Why don’t I talk to the pimply girl and do I talk to her more beautiful sister? I confess. And I will make up for it.

July 19. Train stories #1.

I feel comfortable on the train, playing in my head with reminiscences of my earlier Russian trainrides. The platzkart, the hot water tap, the linen, the short conversations in broken Russian, the angry looking young men, the smiling women – it is all the same here in the far east. The train rolls through endless empty green fields on its way to Chabarovsk. It’s a beautiful day. I open the Italian coffee I brought. At the moment I pinch through the vacuum foil with the tip of my scissors and it releases a short sigh, a child in one of the compartments cries. You know I always associated coffee with devil’s piss and believe every myth as long as caffeine intake is secured. I cut a slit into the coffee package, a large life-giving slit, and toss some coffee in a plastic mug I prepared with my knife from a bottle. It’s real coffee of course, not the soluble rabbit dung they sell for convenience. I avoid that whenever possible. I’m talking real coffee, real Italian coffee distributed to the Ukraine, Russia, Moldova and Kazachstan. I pour hot water on it. The train attendant gives me a glass mug, I get upgraded. Back on my seat, the coffee tastes like it should. The child is silent, playing with his mother and uttering only satisfied toddler wawls. A woman is making the puzzles in a newspaper; most people are sleeping when we arrive in Verino.

Movie of the day: transsiberian.
I really watch this movie sitting on the transsiberian train myself. It is great to see the waggons on my computer screen sitting in a real one, and when a murderer appears in the movie, it gets an extra dimension. I liked the acting by Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley. The photography of Russia is beautiful and close to reality. The plot has the right level of complexity to make the movie entertaining. Its climax is a bit exaggerated, but not out of control. If you have a sense of nostalgia for trains and road-movies, I guess you’ll like this one.

Why don’t I talk to the pimply girl and do I talk to her more beautiful sister? I confess. And I will make up for it.

July 19. Train stories #1. was originally published on Meandering home

April 16. Buenavista Coffee.

Days begin with a cup of Buenavista coffee in a small tienda artesenal and some empanadas to bite on. I look for a place in the shade and write. Today, I work on my novel again, after many weeks. I’m a bit worried I can’t repair the narrative anymore and the project might go down the drain. So be it. Nothing is lost. All the words will remain on their spots in the book, the only thing that has changed is my judgement of it. And that judgement is not even important, I mean, not as important as yours. You are free. You can dance on the ashes of my freedom that I am burning away with all the passion long years of submission can squeeze out of a mind.

That night, I dreamt about mosquitos in a field hospital. Two patients shared a room and before they sleep the doctor makes his final round and advises them to use the mosquito net. One of the patients listens to the doc and carefully straps the mosquito net to his mattress. He falls asleep underneath his impermeable cover. The other patient doesn’t listen to the doc and sleeps without the net. After a few minutes, the mosquitos start zooming in through the window. A few at first, as if they were pathfinders, but very quickly a thick black stream of insects burst into the small ward. The patient that has not listened to the doc is eaten alive, buried under a big black heap of insects. The other patient sleeps like a baby. The next morning, all the mosquitos have left. On one of the beds now lies a skeleton. “We should buy a second net” the doctor grumbles as he strokes with his hand through his grey beard.

April 16. Buenavista Coffee.

Days begin with a cup of Buenavista coffee in a small tienda artesenal and some empanadas to bite on. I look for a place in the shade and write. Today, I work on my novel again, after many weeks. I’m a bit worried I can’t repair the narrative anymore and the project might go down the drain. So be it. Nothing is lost. All the words will remain on their spots in the book, the only thing that has changed is my judgement of it. And that judgement is not even important, I mean, not as important as yours. You are free. You can dance on the ashes of my freedom that I am burning away with all the passion long years of submission can squeeze out of a mind.

That night, I dreamt about mosquitos in a field hospital. Two patients shared a room and before they sleep the doctor makes his final round and advises them to use the mosquito net. One of the patients listens to the doc and carefully straps the mosquito net to his mattress. He falls asleep underneath his impermeable cover. The other patient doesn’t listen to the doc and sleeps without the net. After a few minutes, the mosquitos start zooming in through the window. A few at first, as if they were pathfinders, but very quickly a thick black stream of insects burst into the small ward. The patient that has not listened to the doc is eaten alive, buried under a big black heap of insects. The other patient sleeps like a baby. The next morning, all the mosquitos have left. On one of the beds now lies a skeleton. “We should buy a second net” the doctor grumbles as he strokes with his hand through his grey beard.