Tag Archives: empresso

Coffeehouse observation No. 353 – I see Jesus in my coffee

The baristas at Empresso, the coffeehouse inside The Empire Theater on the Miracle Mile in Stockton, know how to make coffee a religion.

Or, at least, they know how to put Jesus in the coffee.

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All rights reserved by Keith Michaud ©

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Coffeehouse observation No. 350 – Back in the coffeehouse again

Today was the first chance in a couple of weeks to be able to sit and enjoy the coffeehouse. The new job has kept me busy, which is quite the opposite from a complaint. It’s very good to be busy. It’s very good to be employed. … But it has kept me away from what was a haven for two and a half years of unemployment. … I’m comfortable here at Empresso, but I do like the idea that I’m working.

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Lunch out in Stockton

Here we are at the Beach Hut in Stockton.

Here we are at the Beach Hut in Stockton.

Went to the coffeehouse to work for a while today with the girl, then for a walk along the waterfront, and then to the Beach Hut in Stockton for a late lunch. Now were sitting back to watch a couple of videos. … She’s pretty cute, isn’t she!

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Not a miner, but a 49er

Oh, boy! Today is my birthday! I am 49. That’s the batter’s circle to 50!

Ugh!

Oh, birthdays don’t bother me too much. I’ve got other things that take up my concerns, such as unemployment. I’m much more concerned about finding a job and getting back to work than I am about turning 49.

And a birthday this close to 50 is just a reminder how fast employers wrongly believe I’m unemployable, so dwelling on a birthday is just a waste of time for me. Although, having a birthday on the longest day of the year and Summer Solstice is pretty cool, and I do love summer.

But today will be just like nearly every other day since March 5, 2009, the day I was laid off after 22 years in the newspaper business – I’ll be looking for work and trying to build a network that might lead to work. It’s not much, but at my age, what would you expect.

That “at my age” was a joke, by the way. I have plenty of energy and strength and stamina to do good work and be very productive. I just need a chance.

Temperatures are supposed to reach 100 or more today so I’ll be ordering iced tea rather than hot coffee. I’ll use the coffeehouse WiFi to search job websites, gather information for the job search, perhaps pay some bills and do a few other things online.

Later, I’ll be meeting a friend for an evening of DVDs. Other than that, there really isn’t much planned for my birthday.

And that’s the way I like it.

All rights reserved by Keith Michaud ©

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Coffeehouse observation No. 312 – It’s worth a conversation about, well, conversations!

I’ve hit onto something, um, different. At Empresso, the coffeehouse I frequent most often in Stockton, I’m among the older patrons. But at my temporary coffeehouse, not so much.

Sure, there are a few who are older at Empresso, no doubt. But it’s pretty obvious to those who see me that I’m graying and balding on top and a bit broader than I once was in the middle.

I’m a middle-age guy. There! I’ve admitted it! Now everyone get off my back! And while you’re at it, off my lawn!

Whew! I better cut back on the caffeine. … Ya, sure, as if that’s gonna happen!

Anyway, I’m away from Stockton for a while and I had to find a temporary port of call to satisfy my caffeine cravings. Actually, I had to re-find this particular port of call.

Pure Grain Café has been around Vacaville for years, but it wasn’t until shortly before I left for Stockton that they opened a coffeehouse in historic downtown Vacaville – coffee, pastries, sandwiches, soup and salads. It is that now-familiar morph between straight coffeehouse and luncheon deli.

It’s a sunny and bright place. The Vacaville city seal is a sun shining down brightly on the golden rolling hills around and outside the city. Pure Grain Café’s interior is painted yellow to match the sun. And many of the patrons are in their sunny golden years.

That means I’m not so much “the old guy” anymore. A couple of times so far this week, I was among the youngest patrons in the coffeehouse!

It was great to sit there enjoying a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin, surfing the Web, and watching a few of Vacaville’s long-time residents. Like many coffeehouses, Pure Grain Café is a place where old friends wave and call out to each other and then plop down beside each other at a table to spend the next few hours talking. Just talking about this and that and the other thing. Talking about everything and simply nothing at all.

It is difficult in this electronic age where lives can change – fortunes forged, fortunes pissed away, careers made, careers decimated, friendships solidified, friendships destroyed, loves gained, loves lost – all in the click of a mouse or in the sending of a text. We seem to have lost the art of conversation. Sad. We miss so much by failing to carry out one of the most human of activities – conversation.

We all should take the time to have long, meandering conversations that seem to go nowhere and everywhere at the same time, conversations that solve the world’s problems, great and small, and conversations in which recipes for “the world’s best chili” or “the world’s best burger” are exchanged with impunity.

We should return to those conversations in which words spoken are as important as the words left unspoken. We should return to those conversations carried out under willow trees dancing in the wind, on boats with water slowly lapping against the hull, in hushed tones of conspiracy or love or both, and conversations accompanied by boisterous laughter.

Conversations should be lively, animated and meaningful. If not, why not just text the person.

I did not eavesdrop – at least, not much – but it was clear that the conversations among old friends going on at the tables in Pure Grain Café were lively, animated … and very meaningful. My table was the only one on which there was an electronic device. Those conversations – those meaningful conversations – required no email, instant messaging or texting. No electronics at all were used to carry out the actual conversations.

Don’t get me wrong! Electronics and the amazing Internet are vital to our world and they will be essential to bringing this country more economic stability. But personal conversations are just as vital.

Let’s talk about it, at least.

All rights reserved by Keith Michaud ©

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Short film featuring my coffeehouse

Well, it’s not exactly MY coffeehouse, but I do frequent it on a very regular basis. Here’s a brief look at the place. Enjoy! … Oh, yeah! It was shot by a guy named Allen Lin. Good job!

Allen Lin – Empresso Cafe & Stockton Empire Theatre from Chabot College TV on Vimeo.

Coffeehouse observation No. 206

I walked into Exotic Java today on a somewhat tight schedule and was disappointed to see four people in line in front of me. But they were served promptly and cleared away from the counter … where my drink was already waiting. Barista Andrew had spotted me through the drive-through window coming into the coffeehouse and had already started and finished making the drink before I arrived at the counter. I frequent empresso most often, followed by Exotic Java, with Starbucks and Peets a distant third and fourth. The baristas at both empresso and Exotic Java are excellent at what they do and are quite friendly. The owners of both coffeehouses should be proud, because often workers are a reflection of the work ethic of their bosses and a sign of the respect the hold for their bosses.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 188

The guy outside empresso is relentless. He is sitting at one of the tables out there strumming an electric guitar – no amp. And asking each attractive woman the time as they walk by and then he introduces himself. It’s as if he’s trolling and “Excuse me, do you know what time it is?” is the bait. A friend just suggested that it was nothing more than short-term memory loss. Um, I don’t think so.

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Maine Stuff in My California Apartment No. 8 … At least, until I consume them

Today’s photos are of a package from home and its contents.

My Mom and The Sis – probably with the fine assistance of nephew Max and niece Sophie – put it together for my birthday, which was a little over a month ago. Procrastination runs in the family. 🙂

But in all fairness to The Sis, she is a wife, mother of two very active children, Max and Sophie, and has a full-time job. She’s busy. My Mom – known as Mems to The Sis’s two very active children – is busy on her own what with grandchildren to spoil, friends to visit, bowling balls to throw, books to read, a dog’s ears to scratch, and box wine to drink.

Don’t get me wrong. It was a lovely surprise. I knew the package was coming and that it might be a while longer, so it truly was a lovely surprise nonetheless. And very much appreciated.

Here’s the package straight from Fryeburg, Maine. Well, perhaps not straight-arrow straight, but close enough.

Yes, that is me using a corkscrew to open the package from home. It was handy and recently had been used, so I knew it worked.

The package from home was waiting for me yesterday when I returned from a day at empresso coffeehouse, the coffeehouse I frequent the most. It is located in Empire Theater on the Miracle Mile in Stockton, Calif., and hence the name of the coffeehouse. I go there for the reasonably priced and reasonably tasty caffeinated beverages, friendly baristas, and WiFi I use for the protracted job search and to keep in touch with personal and professional contacts.

The package from home is opened. Inside were chocolate chip cookies, Bar Harbor Jam Company Maine Wild Blueberry Muffin Mix, Bar Harbor Jam Company Maine Wild Blueberry Jam, Captain Mowatt’s Blue Flame and Captain Mowatt’s Fireberry Sauce. Apparently, my request for “no sugar” went unheeded … again. 

Inside the package from home were three Ziploc bags of chocolate cookies, Bar Harbor Jam Company Maine Wild Blueberry Muffin Mix, Bar Harbor Jam Company Maine Wild Blueberry Jam, Captain Mowatt’s Blue Flame and Captain Mowatt’s Fireberry Sauce. Trust me on this, it is all yummy stuff and I will enjoy it all.

However – and it’s only a small “however” – I have asked several times for no more sugary treats. I’m closer to 50 than I would like and it is getting harder and harder to keep the weight off. The last thing I need is sugary treats.

To Mom and The Sis I thank you.

This is an occasional multipart series of photos of things related to Maine that can be found in Keith Michaud’s California apartment. All photos in this series are shot by and are the property of Keith Michaud.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 166

The educational system in this country is letting down a lot of people. A guy in empresso just now commented on my hat – Boston Red Sox cap – and I said that I had grown up in New England.

“Oh, really! I’ve heard there’s a lot of great music in the UK.”

“No, I grew up in NEW England. Not the UK.”

“What’s the difference?”

“New England. It’s made up of the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.”

“Oh …”

For crying out loud, people! New England and the Atlantic states are the R&D labs for this experiment called the United States of America. It is a hugely important part of this country.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 160

I’m at the coffeehouse and outside on the patio is a young woman – she has to be in her very late teens or early 20s. She must be a student-athlete at one of the local colleges because she appears very fit and she is wearing a T-shirt with writing on the back about teammates and how they have your back. The T-shirt sleeves are tied back like woman athletes do occasionally. Her hair is tied back, her fingernails are polished with a wild bluish color, and her lips move as she’s reading a book, almost as if it is in a foreign language and she wants to hear it as much as read it. Her right leg is pumping up and down as if she’s nervous or anxious. I know this isn’t PC, but she is a cutie.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 159

A slight bit of weirdness in the coffeehouse the past two days. Yesterday, on my semi-regular fitness walk, I tripped slightly on a cracked sidewalk and a fellow walking out of the park shared a laugh about it and said something such as “Well, I’m not the only one who is not perfect.”

He then proceeded to tell me – for at least five minutes – about the recent surge in crime in the neighborhood surrounding American Legion Park in central Stockton, Calif.

I had never seen the guy before, but I saw him again later at the coffeehouse, which is a pretty healthy walk from American Legion Park.

And then today I went to the bank to deposit a check and spotted a guy in line. I envied him for the nice green tropical shirt he was wearing.

Later in the morning he happened to come into espresso for a beverage.

Just weird that sort of thing happened two days running. I wonder who I might see for the first – and second – time tomorrow.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 157

“Burn, burn, burn, that ring of fire, that ring of fire. …” The baristas at empresso are playing a little Johnny Cash for background music. Cool.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 138

From my perch at empresso, the Miracle Mile coffeehouse I frequent, I can see several laptops open and Facebook on the screen, several other people texting on cellphones, some talking on cellphones, a professorly gentleman wearing suspenders and smoking a pipe, several people reading books – yes, books – a group chatting, and a fellow strumming a guitar. It’s a coffeehouse, all right.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 134

I just spotted a woman crossing the street near empresso and she was wearing a sombrero. … A very large and very colorful sombrero. Go figure!

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Coffeehouse observation No. 133

There’s a guy sitting on the empresso patio and he’s rockin’ out. Big time. Except, there is no music. None. He’s either hyped way, way up on something or … yeah, he’s hyped up on somethin’. … Oh, Stockton, you never fail to entertain.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 128

In an apparent salute to past technology, a guy on the empresso patio is playing Pacman on a laptop. What next? iPong?

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Coffeehouse observation No. 127

I am at the coffeehouse and am wearing a cap that has a moose on the front. The antlers spell out “Cool Moose.” And I am not at all embarrassed. … Well, perhaps a little.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 122

The music from the church service in the Empire Theater is so loud I had to use headphones in order to hear some music. U2 earlier; “Juno” soundtrack now.

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Oh, to be in search of a job – still

But I think things are looking up – at least, I think they are

Not a particularly great week for the job search. I was only able to get three resume packages out – one on Monday and two on Tuesday – and had only a view or two on resumes posted on various job websites.

But it was much better than a few very slow weeks that I have had during this search and my online portfolio has received more visits in the past couple of weeks than it has in months, so I remain upbeat that I will find employment.

I had a couple of days this week during which technical problems bogged me down. I use an HP laptop at empresso, the Stockton coffeehouse I frequent most often. And when certain other people are there running HP or Compaq laptops my WiFi seems to turn to mush and I can barely load even the best websites. There was a woman there Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and I could barely get anything done online when she was there.

(And on Thursday she spent most of her time there talking loudly on her cellular telephone. She wasn’t even working online that very much, she just had the laptop on and connected. I felt a mild urge to ask her: “Do you realize how very loud you are?!” But I’m not that confrontational.)

I also have a problem sometimes when nearby laptop user is using a similar wireless mouse to the Microsoft mouse I use. I’m guessing in both cases it is a matter of similar frequencies crossing over. (I’m not technically endowed so please forgive if does not make perfect technical sense. It does to me.)

When either problem happens I simply disconnect the wireless connection and work on something on my desktop. I’ve starting putting aside work that I can do in such instances. That helps keep the blood pressure down a bit.

Yesterday was sort of a throw-away day, too. I received a phone message late Thursday from the publisher of an East Coast newspaper. I had emailed them a resume package last week for an opening there.

Unfortunately, I did not notice the message until it was after 6 p.m. or so EST so I emailed her that I would return the call the following morning, which I did. I waited for a few hours yesterday for a return call and headed out to empresso when it got to be about 4:30 p.m. EST. Perhaps she’ll call on Monday.

Or not.

I make it a point not to let that sort of thing bother me too much. It would have been nice to get some job searching done yesterday, but that’s the way it goes.

I truly wish my portfolio was better, more stunning, more compelling. Much of my writing is not easily accessible online. Much of my carry involved moving pages, writing editorial, directing news coverage and reporters, for which there are no bylines. Anyway …

Next week I’ll get down to it again. Perhaps I can double the number of resume packages.

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