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Archive for October, 2010

Life in the fast lane

Getting up in the morning we rush for the snooze button, then realising we’re late it becomes a great rush story. Rush into and out of the shower, morning traffic rush, a rushed breakfast on the work desk, rush for meetings, rush to meet deadlines so we can be ready in time to rush back home!

Is this really living life to the full? Do we get a kick out of living life in the fast lane?

The Labour weekend’s reported road toll suggests we lost eight Kiwis – precious lives that could have been saved. Whether it’s speed, alcohol, cell-phones or any other distraction, nothing is above life! Do we not agree on that?

Some of us seem to be rushing to die – an unimaginable eagerness to put their lives, and others’, at risk!

The world is rapidly getting sucked into a ‘fast’ mentality – fast lanes, ultra fast broadband, fast computers, instant finance/loans, instant coffee, instant noodles, fast cars/trains, instant wealth, fast food (that’s a huge topic of discussion in itself).

The virtues of patience, tolerance, respect and discipline are not completely lost, but seem to be ‘fast’ disappearing.

Time may have become money in these times, but again ‘nothing is above life’. We can sense our breath, feel the air, smell the roses and relish our food only if we’re alive. Life is irreplaceable and invaluable!

If it’s still confusing, let’s go back to our basics – slow and steady (drive to speed limits for sure) and still win the race! Enjoy and savour every living moment we’re entitled to.

Sorry I have to rush now to join the ‘Slow & Steady Club’!

ife in the fast lane

 

Getting up in the morning we rush for the snooze button, then realising we’re late it becomes a great rush story. Rush into and out of the shower, morning traffic rush, a rushed breakfast on the work desk, rush for meetings, rush to meet deadlines so we can be ready in time to rush back home!

 

Is this really living life to the full? Do we get a kick out of living life in the fast lane?

 

The Labour weekend’s reported road toll suggests we lost eight Kiwis – precious lives that could have been saved. Whether it’s speed, alcohol, cell-phones or any other distraction, nothing is above life! Do we not agree on that?

 

Some of us seem to be rushing to die – an unimaginable eagerness to put their lives, and others’, at risk!

 

The world is rapidly getting sucked into a ‘fast’ mentality – fast lanes, ultra fast broadband, fast computers, instant finance/loans, instant coffee, instant noodles, fast cars/trains, instant wealth, fast food (that’s a huge topic of discussion in itself).

 

The virtues of patience, tolerance, respect and discipline are not completely lost, but seem to be ‘fast’ disappearing.

 

Time may have become money in these times, but again ‘nothing is above life’. We can sense our breath, feel the air, smell the roses and relish our food only if we’re alive. Life is irreplaceable and invaluable!

 

If it’s still confusing, let’s go back to our basics – slow and steady (drive to speed limits for sure) and still win the race! Enjoy and savour every living moment we’re entitled to.

 

Sorry I have to rush now to join the ‘Slow & Steady Club’!

 

 

 

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Smart cup of coffee

Aroma, flavour and taste are the main drawing points of a drink of coffee – it’s a fine balance between them that holds the key to a winning cup.

As much as the coffee beans, the type of cup used to drink your coffee can have a huge impact on its taste and flavour! This should not be surprising for coffee devotees as most of them can instantly spot any variation in taste with the first sip.

When enjoying our coffee, we hardly think about what we’re drinking it out of – whether it’s a paper, styrofoam, ceramic/porcelain, glass or plastic cup. Now you would say it all depends on whether you’re having it sitting in a café or as a takeaway, and also on what options the café offers.

Fair enough, but here’s some ‘coffee for thought’!

With plastic, paper and styrofoam cups, the two aspects to consider are the effect on taste and on the environment. A school of thought suggests these materials can add their flavour to the coffee, besides the possibility of releasing some of their toxic ingredients into the drink as a result of its high temperature. Being disposable and usually non-recyclable (even the paper ones have a plastic coating), their journey takes them to landfills.

Porcelain cups, on the other hand, don’t pose that ‘leaching’ risk and can hold the warmth for longer, preserving the flavour. Being reusable they’re environmentally friendly as well.

The only effort when using the porcelain kind is to wash them regularly, to avoid getting rings around the inside of your coffee cup. The rings are usually the oils in the coffee that can adhere to the sides of the cup and affect the taste of your next drink.

It’s interesting most cafe owners have to look for a balance between quality and price. A few of them are genuinely concerned about the environmental impact of the type of cups used, and offer effective alternatives to their customers.

One of the initiatives has been from an Australian company – KeepCup offers a range of recyclable, non-disposable, funky and trendy coffee cups (also available in NZ). Supposedly there are a few other brands in the local market, but they don’t seem to be visible in a big way.

The success of any such smart cup of coffee depends on the practicability of the product around handling, design, price and portability. With such a large scale worldwide consumption, this product issue warrants more research and innovation.

Though the awareness around it is gradually picking up, it’s not enough to affect a turnaround in the ‘disposable’ coffee-cup culture. To bring about a big change, the push needs to come from coffee consumers – all of us!

(ps – Please share your knowledge of any other smart cups available in NZ.)

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A cup of freshly brewed coffee kick-starts the day, every day, for millions of people!

With its intense aroma that can be sensed nasally (through the nose) or retro-nasally (after sipping when the aroma drifts upwards into the nasal passage), it has an incredible power to transform our persona.

Some current studies list more than 800 aromatic compounds presumably present in coffee – a startling number our senses have to handle with each sip!

Besides magically altering our conscious state of mind, giving it a heightened perception, its impact on our mood, alertness and energy levels can be quite dramatic.

Much has been written and documented on the beneficial and/or harmful effects of drinking coffee, but the overall balance of the effects is on the side of benefits, as we all would like to believe!

While for some people, coffee is a want – they simply love the drink; for others it’s a need – coffee is their life, it drives their world and nothing can be achieved without the help of a few cups through the day.

We all are different coffee personalities – the way we consume coffee and the type of coffee we choose is a reflection of parts of our inner person.

This is not the only way coffee affects our lives – it starts to have an impact on our world right from the stage of its plantation. Did you know that using industrial farming practices, it takes about 140 litres of water to grow the coffee beans needed to produce one cup of coffee?* On top of that coffee is often grown in countries where there is a water shortage!

Coffee has become such an integral part of our lives, but we hardly stop to think how it affects the life of communities that grow it and how fair the production and trade is towards them.

There are varying views worldwide on the Fair Trade system that intends to provide fair terms of trade for farmers and workers involved in plantations. What ever the equilibrium of such views, the growers certainly deserve a thought by coffee connoisseurs!

A small cup of blog like this one can’t do justice to the eminent status of coffee in our lives. But it’s a beginning and a small step towards achieving total coffee consciousness. More to come – watch this space!

(*Source- Wikipedia)

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A vote for Earth

Good news for earthlings who are sick of the only life sustaining planet we know – scientists have found another planet with conditions conducive for the existence of life!

Or is it good news for the rest of them who want to send such earthlings packing – millions of kilometres away?!

But there’s a small problem.

Supposedly, the newly discovered planet, named Gliese 581g, is just 193,000 billion km away from Earth and would take anyone 20 years to reach it, travelling at the speed of light, or many thousands of years in a contemporary spacecraft.

Seriously, why would you start abusing your planet that supports your life in a variety of ways if you’re not sick of it?

No it’s not about global warming slash climate change, but just the very basics of our lifestyle on the planet. Considering our consumerist behaviours, have we been responsible consumers of Earth’s resources?

We can’t deny while technology has made our lives simpler by providing the so-called hi-tech goods, it has achieved this at the cost of impacting upon the health of the planet.

The invention and use of plastics, for instance, has revolutionised our world in all areas of life – hardly any product at our disposal today is without an element of plastic in it. Computers, furniture, household items, cars and packaging are just a few examples of goods that are either fully made of plastic or use plastic parts.

Most of this plastic can’t be recycled, so gets thrown away after use. Now if you’re wondering where all this plastic waste goes, apart from landfills, perhaps you haven’t heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean that extends over a very wide area, with estimates ranging from an area the size of the state of Texas to one larger than the continental United States!

Shoes, toys, bags, wrappers, toothbrushes, and innumerable bottles are only part of what can be found in this accidental dump, according to published reports. And this might just be the ‘tip’ of the berg!

Now you can imagine the civilisation’s excesses on our 4.54 billion years old planet!

So do we plan to transport all the waste we produce off to another planet, or wait for an invitation from Gliese 581g to move there? Or, do we start making amends now to the way we live our lives and really begin to care for our beloved Earth?

Whatever happens to our, so far, lonely planet, we all have a collective responsibility towards it!

I’ve made a beginning by discarding the use of plastic water bottles and instead started to carry an EcoTanka SS bottle.

Will you vote for Earth?

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The bigger picture

Seeing an artist engrossed in capturing the colours and hues of nature can be quite a moving experience – as I realised when I captured this image.

To experience the simplicity and joy of creativity was immensely satisfying, and reinforced the fact how anyone can spread cheer around, regardless of their stage and situation in life.

We may not be able to replicate mother nature’s colours, but that’s where artists get inspiration from for their ‘masterpieces’. They also get inspired by the way nature achieves its own ‘masterpieces’ – in little steps and with precise planning.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said – “Nature never hurries. Atom by atom, little by little she achieves her work.”

Whether it’s the clock of day and night, turn of seasons, changes in weather, growth of flora and fauna, human evolution or even natural disasters, they are all a result of a slow build up – days, months or years!

Similarly, the recent quake in Christchurch and its surrounding districts might have been the result of years of geological activity under the earth’s surface. Taking cue from nature, the rebuilding of the region needs to be precise, even if slow, for a state of better preparedness in the future.

Pondering ‘the bigger picture’ while indulging in ‘the topical picture’ can help achieve that ‘masterpiece’ we look for in everything we do!

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