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Saturday, August 07, 2004

unseasonably cool

i expected to be drinking iced coffee today, but the unusual weather has me finishing up the last of the old batdorf dancing goat in the cafetiére (a.k.a. french press.)

à propos of my recent post on the best edition of the yoga sutras, the fabulous carl "upside down" horowitz informs me that the ultimate yoga sutras is the cd-rom version available for US$25 at t.k.v. desikachar's bookstore. this multi-media version has printable texts, an english translation, and audio files so you can hear what the sutras traditionally sound like.

i might order one, since it seems a little handier than carrying around the entire
heart of yoga just for the sutra translation.

recently, the unofficial alumni listserv for st. john's has featured a lot of discussion on "eastern thinking," which is pretty funny for a group who've devoted themselves to the program, which used to be naively called "the great books," or by the truly crazed, "the canon."

it's astonishing how people unafraid to wade through hegel's wacky phenomenology, straight text, no chaser, sans commentary, fear likewise reading something simple like the gita or the sutras.

gimme the gita any day over hegel! what's more surprising is the embedded prejudice that eastern classics are illogical mysticism that must be irrational and can't be discussed.

um, folks, what about plotinus? that's mystical. but seriously, altho' the alumni are educated people who know the indians invented or discovered zero and the arabs algebra, that the "east" preserved aristotle when it was lost to the "west," they seem to resist the idea that one can rationally talk about these books.

in fact, it almost seems like an emotional need that these works be "inscrutable," especially among the alumni who've gone po-mo and drunk the school of paris cant. they are the worst "orientalists" of all, even as they think they are so chic and liberal.

they should know better than to argue we can't understand these books because english has "closed our minds" to the "foreign structure" and "ineffable referrants" of sanskrit ideas with me! as if sanskrit can't be learned -- i mean, i know literally hundreds of yoga students who study and chant it every day!

but i really think the alumni can learn otherwise, which is why i've been seeking the best translation of the sutras for them to explore. i refuse to lead any seminars on it tho!

posted by fortune | 9:37 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Friday, August 06, 2004

asthmatics take note

and today finds a nice brief recap of some of the proven health benefits of yoga.

"researchers believe the practice of yoga was . . . . brought to the united states around the early 20th century," the article sez.

i guess i find this surprising, since i thought it was pretty clear yoga debuted in the u.s.a. with swami vivekananda's famed speeches at chicago's world parliament of religions in 1893?

is it just me or is it somehow signficant that vivekananda gave this beautiful speech about peace, tolerance and universal brotherhood on september 11:

"i fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal."

i'll stand on my head to that.

otherwise, i'm like the dog who stands staring into his empty bowl. but for the dancing goat espresso the charming jessica of batdorf sent me, i am bereft of fresh coffee.

take pity on me, someone! i beg you: send coffee!

posted by fortune | 11:01 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Thursday, August 05, 2004

splenda and the chocolate chip

those devoted readers who may recall my baking disaster when i attempted to replace all the sugar in a batch of brownies with splenda, please take note!

here's a recipe that suggests replacing only 1/2 the sugar with splenda. (if you get bugged for a password, use bugmenot.)

i might try this trick with my own chocolate chip cookie recipe. i've also thought of using davinci's plain or "simple" splenda syrup in another brownie attempt, to reduce sugar but increase moisture. . .

the canadians are coming: in an obscure bit of coffee news of interest to new yorkers, canadian coffee company van houtte is quietly appearing on the scene. what this means for us and our relatively backwards coffee culture here, i'm not yet sure. . .

posted by fortune | 10:19 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

in response to popular request

mystery of the cans
what is in those cans?
yes, in fact i demand to know!
no, finding out would depress coffee drinking forever.
does anyone still drink supermarket canned coffee?
i still need more info as to why it matters.


the poll itself. "do consumers deserve to know what's in those supermarket cans of commercial 'coffee'?"

posted by fortune | 2:10 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

sexy sadie

it's easy to say that as a new yorker, i am jaded by beauty. after all, the most lovely and perfect people arrive here from every spot on the globe every single day seeking work as models.

beauty litters broadway.

thus when i tell you that yesterday, i saw a woman of such rare beauty my jaw dropped -- a woman more beautiful than uma thurman. . .let me try again.

yesterday i went to yoga as usual, but was very excited because we were having a new substitute teacher i didn't know. i love trying new teachers and seeing what they have to offer.

and i was greeted by the excruciatingly gorgeous sadie, whose face was beyond any botticelli angel. you literally cannot help but stare at her -- she is that mesmerizing.

however, i didn't enjoy my time with sadie. why? she proved the very archetype of what some call "the iyengar alignment nazi."

yup, we weren't 10 minutes into class before she whipped out a tiny skeleton and began to explain the anatomy of the shin bones and forefoot in endless detail. most of the class had no clue what she was talking about, i'm afraid.

we slowly moved in and out of the same lunge to discover the interaction between our talus, tibia, fibula, and calcaneus. yup, the entire class was about the anklebone.

now, i appreciate iyengar yoga, even tho' i haven't always had a great experience with it. long-time readers know i've raved about senior iyengar teacher francois raoult and younger teacher karl erb.

but it was when she asked us to drop our liver and turn from our spleen that i completely lost it. why do so many iyengar yoga teachers teach in this cold, mechanical, overly-perfective way?

yes, i spent 1-1/2 hrs. in exactly 3 poses. i don't mind that per se. maybe it's my personality, but after sitting at the computer all day, i love the aspect of yoga that is moving meditation.

so my best yoga with sadie was mental. i mean, trying to let go off the intense aversion i felt toward her yoga teaching style.

don't get me wrong. sadie has a pleasant personality and a nice manner; she's a good teacher.

i appreciated her exact knowledge of anatomy and wish more yoga teachers possessed it. what makes raoult so fantastic is that he has all this knowledge. . .and a sense of humor!

lighten up sadie and you'll be unstoppable. i predict in 4 years you'll see her videos everywhere. . . .

posted by fortune | 11:40 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

what's in those cans, cont'd.

this topic proves more consuming than expected. please follow the correspondence below:

"dear ted:

naturally your manifesto "what's in those cans?" wasn't on my website 5 mins. before an scaa pro member sent an email over my transom asking, if scaa is so into pure, why did they sign onto the recent i.c.o. compromise?

i replied "something's better than nothing in the ugly world of sausage-making." but i'm not happy with this answer. please advise.

happy coffee, pure & good,


the wonderful thing about scaa chief ted lingle is that he answers direct questions directly:

"Dear Fortune:

The U.S. State Department declared that ICO Resolution 407 was an "illegal restraint of trade," and therefore the U.S. could not rejoin the ICO as along as it was "on the books." The ICO, by vote of their members (not SCAA) modified Resolution 407 to Resolution 420, clearly making the program "voluntary," which it already was to everyone except the U.S. State Department. Tactically, I think the ICO made the right choice, particularly with it's very survival at stake.

Did SCAA's pro member respond to the basic question: with international purity standards established on a "voluntary basis," shouldn't consumers be asking, "what's in those cans?"

Best consumer choice: "buy beans so you can judge the quality (impurity) level yourself!" SCAA and its members are not in the "sausage business."



this is gold, gold, gold. i immediately asked:

"dear ted:

can i blog this too please?

'every day is ted lingle day on the internet!' (grin)

happy coffee,


and the final response:

"Dear Fortune:

Please do. Do you also think your readers would respond to a poll question, "Do consumers have a right to know what's in those cans?"



well, the only way to find out is to find out. herewith, ted's requested poll.

results will be forwarded to nca big-guy robert nelson.

posted by fortune | 12:12 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

what's in those cans?

long-time readers know i traditionally ask "where does your coffee dollar go?" (and here!)

to that, i'm adding a second question: what's in those cans? meaning the red-n-blue supermarket cans brought to us by the "big four" multi-national coffee roasters sara lee, p&g, kraft and nestle.

i shouldn't let tchibo off the hook here, either.

scaa chief, a.k.a. my personal coffee deity, ted lingle and i recently had a discussion about this. lemme just reprint it:

"Dear Fortune:

'What's in those cans' is a very fair question for consumers to ask. In effect, it's the other side of 'fair trade.'

Good luck,


he also sent me this interesting manifesto:

What's in those cans?

  1. While SCAA's goal is "good" coffee in most of the cans, we think the first step is "pure" coffee in all of the cans.

    "Good" coffee, meaning few defects

    "Pure" coffee, meaning meets ICO standards

  2. SCAA's long standing position is that "great" coffee should be reserved for those coffees receiving the "special steps" needed to offer coffee to consumers as whole beans.

    "Great" coffee, meaning tastes great -- no defects

    "Special steps," meaning extra sorting & grading

  3. SCAA's concern is the continuing decline in the number of consumers drinking commercial coffees. We think the quality of coffee sold in cans needs to be improved (#1) until there are no further decreases in consumption

i can see from my website statistics that certain of the big four stop by and read bccy at least once a week. when, i beg you, will you take the message of all us coffee lovers to heart?

posted by fortune | 7:37 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Monday, August 02, 2004

artisan bread culture going global

"mercifully, one is no longer subjected to chewing on mass-produced, fleecy white bread that tastes of, well, nothing."

when i saw this article, i was sure it was from some pleasant mid-west college town here in the u.s.a. boy howdy, am i wrong.

italian-style coffee and european-style artisan breads are now both apparently global forces. . .

and hot off the presses, the new scaa consumer member "cafénatic" web pages!

posted by fortune | 9:56 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Sunday, August 01, 2004

conventions, not scaa

i rarely have a lot of time to play with the news, as long-time readers probably have figured out -- i spend most of time standing on my head or, like marge simpson, ensconced pondering "recipes you can read in bed."

however i was amused to see at one point the various media people busily interviewing themselves as they complained about how bad the coffee was at the recent convention in boston. it was possibly the first time i ever felt sorry for those narcissistic cable chat 'hos -- oops, did i say that?

thus i can happily report -- and this is the extent of bccy's "blogger political coverage" -- that at the convention in new york, the coffee will be superb. because the l'oreal laddies and botoxed commentators will be drinking don schoenholt's gillies coffee from his own brewers!

i'm not sure what blend yet, tho'. if i find out, i'll post it so those of you who share that persuasion can drink along with the delegates at home. . .

i've been thinking for a while of finally just coming out and posting on basic yoga class etiquette. it used to exist, even 2 years ago.

lately, however, it seems to have vanished, among new and more experienced students alike. sometimes even the teachers ignore it.

i should really make a formal list, but off the top of my head, in as light and humorous a tone as i can muster:

  1. respect savasana -- no talking, leaving loudly in the middle, shouting in the hallway outside while waiting for the next class etc. and teachers should also be quiet. please don't chat about whatever all thru my 10-minute meditation, thank you very much.

  2. enter and leave the room with respect -- turn off your cell phone and take off your shoes. i have to put my face on that floor.

    also, if you come late to class and enter during the chanting, please stand quietly to the side or sit down in the back. the teacher will find a place for you in just a minute.

    if there's a space up front, take it when the chant is finished. it's quite rude to expect the last 2 rows to all move to make space for you because you can't be bothered to arrive to class on time.

    if you have to leave early, please tell the teacher in advance, and station yourself so you can make a mouse-quiet exit during savasana.

  3. do the yoga class -- during yoga you're so involved in your own practice that's it's rare to notice what others are doing. but it is distracting when the person next to you comes to a vinyasa class but does their own kundalini routine, and rude to the teacher to boot.

    sure modify the poses, do the yoga that's right for you: but if you want something radically different, go there, please.

    likewise, try to do the poses as the teacher instructs them. why are you sitting there on your tush while the rest of the class does handstand?

    if you can't do handstand for a physical reason, do viparita karani, etc. or practice the prep. but it's very rude to the teacher to just ignore the class when you don't like a pose.

  4. personal hygiene -- if you know the class is crowded, and we're gonna be mat-to-mat, please take a bath earlier in the day and make sure your pedicure is decent. i don't want to talk about the feet i've had in my face recently; it's just too gross.

    men who can't bear the pedicure thing could at least give their feet a quick wipe in the bathroom before class. moist towellettes are a big help here.

  5. vague modesty in clothing -- sure we have these hot yoga bods, and so go ahead and wear the little outfit. i do; we are exercising, among other things, after all.

    but please ladies, in your display of low-cut yoga pants, don't wear the high-waist thong. as it is in crowded classes when you bend over next to me, i know you too well.

    i shouldn't also know your underwear choices and size. also gentlemen, avoid the bikram-style speedo look; please wear clothing that covers, umm, enough that i would be useless describing your physical characteristics should you be involved in a celebrity assault case!

i'm sure you yoga students and teachers reading this have additions of your own that you'll be happy to share in the comments!

posted by fortune | 9:49 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

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