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Bernhard Schlink

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Monday, April 17, 2006


Sometimes I get a really clever idea, and make a plan and set it in action. It's all going along brilliantly, and I'm feeling very proud of what a great idea I've had and how flawlessly I've executed it, when I notice, Eureka!, that it is not going to work. My post-lunch coffee break provides a classic example.

I went to the freezer and put a scoopfull of my lovely coffee into my mug, add sugar, and took it to the hot water dispenser to fill it.

The water doesn't come out hot enough. The microwave near the coffee room/my office was busy heating someone's lunch. I could not wait for my caffeine. So, I went over to the kitchenette on the other side of the office, and nuked my tar soupcoffee.

The detail I forgot was this: my mug has no handle, so it gets very hot when I do this, and the kitchenette it too far from my office to do my usual oh-I'll-make-it-before-I-burn-my-fingers dash. This is where I got clever: I borrowed someone's "normal" mug - the kind with a handle - and put my cup inside, since pouring it over would lose the sludgecoffee grinds at the bottom that make Turkish coffee so good. Very pleased with my cleverness, I return to my desk where, amazingly, I realize that I can't get my mug out of its holder-mug, because there's nowhere to grip.

I stirred furiously, nuked it some more (hotter water dissolves more coffee!), and poured the contents into another (third) mug. I now have to wash three mugs.

I know, I know. I'm a genius.

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