Since the end of 2013 I have had the concept of daily ritual on my mind. Call them habits, routine, or otherwise, the more fixed, the closer these get to what I would consider ritual. The internet provides a formal definition that works as well as any. A ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. Choose the definition you prefer and follow along.

I have always thought myself their creature. Good and bad, routine provides definition and structure. They provide outline. Over the next few months I intend to share a series of posts on the topic of ritual. Specifically my own, focusing on those that are more or less fully defined. Some I am sure will seem banal. Others may surprise. In the end I hope they will persuade you to consider your own daily rituals in new light.

Here is the first.

In September 2011 I wrote about giving up coffee for the umpteenth time. In that post I wrote that I have an on again, off again, relationship with coffee. After our son Henrik was born Linda and I took a three month leave from work. We both went back to work afterwards, which left us with a childcare decision to make. Linda and I both work from home, which made what we now call “child care in three shifts” possible. I start work at 6:00 AM. Linda watches Henrik in the morning. Child care comes in mid morning and stays until 3:00 PM when I get off work. I watch Henrik. Linda gets off work at 5:00 PM. Rinse and repeat.

I wanted a way to drink one strong cup of coffee a day, but no more. I wanted that cup to be fantastic, but at the same time be too much work to even want to make a second cup. Here is what I came up with.

(1) Water. 16 ounces. Microwave 3 Minutes.

I heat the water in the microwave 180 degrees. I use a Pyrex 2 Cup. This dude is the a very handy utilititarian for lots of small jobs.

pyrex

(2) Beans. 32 grams. 5 Minutes.

I figured out real quick that the most important aspect of great coffee is great beans. I tried a few different grocery brands that were okay. Then I found a local source of freshly roasted beans at Crate Coffee. I dropped by the shop one afternoon, had a half hour conversation with the owner Jeff about my current process, and bought a pound of beans. I try to buy my beans every other Friday. Jeff buys his beans from a local Phoenix roaster who roasts the beans on Wednesdays. That is about as good as one can hope to get.

3152399890_8c35a17297 Photo by ed_needs_a_bicycle

Note: How do I get 32 grams? Weigh your beans with a food scale, mister.

Food Scale

A word on bean grinding. This is where the five minutes fits in. Linda gave me a ceramic hand grinder for Christmas. This adds a few extra minutes to the ritual but is well worth it. The ceramic burr takes only a few minutes but gives you mostly perfect “grounds symmetry”. Not sure that is an actual term or not.

(3) Steeping the Grounds. AeroPress. 4 Minutes.

This gets its own section a part from step two because there are so many methods. With this I have been experimenting. Started with the French Press and have now moved to the AeroPress. I have experimented with both at the same time. It took me a few weeks but this is my current process. I pour the water slowly over the grinds in the AeroPress chamber. I then stir the mixture with a spoon. I then put the stopper in the chamber to create a vacuum and let the mix steep four minutes. I then press into a coffee cup. Here is a video of Gwilym Davies showing you how he does it.

AeroPress

(4) 1/2 tsp Coconut Oil, 1/2 tsp Butter. ~1 Minute.

If you like cream, go for it. For my taste, this mixture of oils is better. I start with a refined coconut oil, not the unrefined stuff, which quite expectedly tastes a bit too much like coconut to me.

While my water is heating, I measure the oils into a Magic Bullet cup. When the water is ready, I pour a few ounces into the cup to start to melt the oils. When the coffee is done steeping I pour the coffee it the Magic Bullet cup and buzz it up for five seconds, pour the finished product back into the coffee mug, and enjoy.

magic bullet

Just one cup. Now you know how. Now you know why. Give it a try and let me know how things turn out won’t you?

Owen

I haven’t written in a few weeks. That’s not exactly out of the ordinary, but now that I have a new baby at home I have a new excuse. Anyway, speaking of baby Henrik, I took some time this morning to upload a few new pictures to his Henrik Flickr set.

I then took a few minutes to browse my Flickr View Statistics. I’m up over 53,000 views? Cool. That was fun to see, but what was really cool, blew me away really, was the discovery that Forbes had used some of my work (picture) on there site!

Depending on when you read this, you might still be able to catch the Forbes post here. If not, I just had to take a screenshot of the page, in case for some reason they decided to take it down.

OWENWBROWN.COM on Forbes

Some of you are asking, how can Forbes use my work and I not even know about it? Allow me to explain. I have just about all of my work under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic. All I ask for is a little something called Attribution. I have had it that way for some time but I recently watched a Chase Jarvis Live episode ‘The Future of Photo Sharing‘ that confirmed that decision. If you share photos anywhere on the internet, this is worth watching; especially if you might ever want to monetize.

One last thing. Here’s another one, posted on http://www.reputation.com. It’s the thumbs up, or Facebook Like picture that’s been viewed almost 12,000 times, but you do have to look closer to the end of the post to see it.

Thanks for indulging me and my ego. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Owen

Linda and I stayed a few extra days at the hospital after Henrik was born. During this time we had nurses coming in at all times during the day and night. We asked each one to show us how to properly swaddle, as most of the videos I ran across on YouTube seemed to focus more on the person doing the swaddling as opposed to the actual swaddle technique itself.

Henrik Walker Brown

Funny thing was, not a single nurse showed us the same exact swaddle technique. As a result, I wasn’t able to perfectly recreate any of the swaddles. It seemed I was missing a few quick steps that the nurses would just do, without actually mentioning the step, because they’ve done this a thousand times a day for years. I finally asked one of the nurses if she would mind me taking a video so I could watch it over and over again. This is that video.

Note: This was also a test. WordPress wants $60.00 a year to allow me to use their video host a share service. Plus I would likely need to also pay them to rent more space. As a Flickr Pro account holder, I can host and share without limits, at a fraction of the cost. This was a test to see what Flickr Video looks like when posted on a WordPress Blog. The videographer definitely isn’t a pro, but otherwise, not half bad.

Owen

The Road to Henrik

July 3, 2013

Baby Henrik was due to arrive on Saturday, June 22, 2013. In my experience, Swedes are very rarely ever late. That means we can either blame my Irish English roots, or more likely, on the fact that we just haven’t had the opportunity to teach Baby how to keep to a schedule. All in due time.

As a result, we made an appointment at Chandler Regional Hospital for this past Thursday afternoon to induce labor. After a long process, including a lot of walking, Linda was diagnosed as being in ‘active labor’ and was officially admitted at midnight. The epidural was administered, other hoops were jumped, and by 2:00 AM on Friday morning we were able to get some rest. But not much. By 6:00 AM Linda and Baby were ready to take things to the next level.

Fast forward a bit. After about five hours of intense physical toil, the doctor recommended a Cesarian as the safest way to proceed. Linda got to experience it all! Inducement, certain aspects of natural childbirth, and Cesarian. What a lucky gal! All kidding aside, the most important thing is that Baby was born healthy and safe. Mom and Baby are home, recovering, and doing very well.

Henrik Walker Brown 36

Stick’em up!

Henrik Walker Brown

Thinking deeply.

Henrik Walker Brown

Owen