I grew up in what was most definitely a coffee household. Even though I didn't have my first cup of coffee until I went to college, it was pre-ordained that someday I would become a coffee drinker like my parents and grandparents before them. The only tea in the house were these highly suspect bags of Red Rose tea. Suspect because nobody was really sure how they got into the house in the first place. When I was over there last March, my aunt (not blood relative) asked for tea instead of coffee. She was given one of those same bags of tea. Still, I remember at some point when I was a child, I was offered tea. Perhaps at a friend's house. I'd never had tea before, but I had this very clear sense of what tea should taste like. So, I accepted the proffered cup. It did not taste at all like I imagined it. Disappointed, it would be years before I'd have tea, again.
I think it was my Ex who next tried to give me tea. At this point, I was able to comprehend that there were a multitude of teas. That it was possible that my tea was out there waiting for me still. She gave me Earl Grey. I tried green tea. Chamomile. Sleepytime. Lemon Zinger. None were the tea I had imagined. While some were alright, they all paled before my Holy Grail of teas. Eventually, we gave up. I continued to drink coffee. Sometimes, when I'm sick, I'll drink tea, but it's a joyless affair.
It was a rather strange story to tell at lunch.
I picked up a copy of Harper's to read on the train back. Barbara Ehrenreich was giving Hope a Brooklyn salute. I know I've already discussed my distaste in regards to hope, so I was delighted to see somebody else kicking the hope industry in the ass. Sometimes, though, I do wonder if those positive thinking folks know of what they speak. But I like to believe that while I'm cynical, I'm not entirely negative.
On that theme, one of my co-workers ordered Chinese food for lunch today. She had it delivered, and paid for it on her credit card. So, it's getting towards the end of the day. Half of our department leave at 4:30, and of those who are left, there is no real figure of authority. So, it's in that mode that I start hearing that co-working speaking loudly into her phone.
"Yes, I ordered food from there today. The bill came to $11.25, I signed for $12, but just now when I called my bank, they told me that I was charged for $13.33! So why are you over-charging me?"
Now, I will not hazard a guess as to if she was actually correct, or for what reason there might have been an over-charge. What most astonished me was that she'd checked. Within 4 hours of eating this food, she is calling her bank to determine the charge. Of course, this same person has called to complain about food being ordered too early, too late, without what she felt was adequate extra cheese, a missing coffee from a donut run. Which is to say that in the time that I've known her, every place she's ordered from or gone to as messed up her order. I have to admit, that I don't consider this bad luck. I have a well documented dark rain cloud that follows me around, and yet there is never an error in my food orders. (On the subject of dark rain cloud, I was one night at a club, and I accidentally bumped into a woman. I apologized, and she turned to tell me it was nothing, then her eyes bulged, and her face whipped around to look at me more completely. She handed me a card. "You must come see me." She was a psychic, or so said her business card. She was in fact the third psychic that month to hand me their card while off-duty). There's just something about her that searches for these little disasters to fight. I would not notice the mistaken charge because it would be two weeks before I looked at a bank statement, and aside from pondering the existence of the charge in the first place, I wouldn't remember if it were $12 or $13.33. (Yes, I'm a sloppy bookkeeper).
Also, recently I read a review of the book Total War. As it turned out, the author was giving at talk at HBS this evening, so as part of my "get out of the house more, and stop whining about it being winter" program, I attended. (It also helped that HBS has started scheduling events for 6:30 instead of 6, tremendously increasing my chances of arriving on time). I have to admit, that even after hearing him talk, I am a little fuzzy on his points. Or moreso, that he went ass-backwards in coming up with them. I was trying to keep notes, and had written down the traditional definition of total war: complete mobilization for utter destruction of other societies. His includes political process driving combatants to ideal, but that seems more an issue of cause than how it differs in what occurs. But I noted was he talked about Napoleon and referred to Nap's ideal of an empire where the other parts are integrated, and while under French rule, not under subjugation as such, which is to say, not total war as it was defined. And I started thinking about some other wars. While WWI can fit the total war model, WWII was different. Maybe it's looking back on things, but there's a sort of Nazi/German divide. Rather like the Cold War's hatred of Communists, but thaw towards the Russian people. Of course, I could accept an argument that the US's war against Japan was a total war. But I ultimately just find the whole thing crumbling. Plus, as was pointed out in the review, the 30 Years War was pretty much a total war, and so even if we accept his claim that the 1700s were pretty civil in terms of warfare, they seem more an aberration than the norm.
What was interesting, though, was his mentioning of how some in Revolutionary France felt that peace would make people soft, and that war would purify people. What struck me about that was that as I was reading on the use of Robots in the army, the writer speaks to a soldier who says, "What happens to every major civilization? At some point they civilize themselves right out of warriors. You've got sheep and you've got wolves. You've got to have enough wolves around to protect your sheep, or else somebody else's wolves are going to take them out."
Anyway, tonight I'm drinking cocoa laced with kahlua, and I think I'll count some sheep until I fall asleep.
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