Monday, September 28, 2020

Coffee Creek Quality

One-minute excerpt of S5E1 of Schitt's Creek, a fair-use clip for educational purposes. May be blocked in some locations; may not be used on monetized sites.

"Coffee Movie!" or "Library Movie!" are expressions we use in the Hayes-Boh household to express our joy when encountering our favorite subjects in a film or a television show. A fantasy sabbatical project of mine, for example, would be to string together all of the coffee references in M*A*S*H; my favorite librarian even has a television tag for entries in her famous "Library" Books blog.

Our pandemic television roster now includes Schitt's Creek, a series to which we are late arrivals. The low-brow veneer covers some rather clever humor in a series that is essentially an inversion of The Beverly Hillbillies. Some scenes are set in a café, but the one that caught our attention takes place in the lobby of the very modest motel that is more central to the series. 

John first mentions coffee as nothing more than a caffeine vehicle -- fuel for a tired person. Stevie tries to discourage him, suggesting that even his low expectations of quality will not be met. 

Coffee quality matters, even when expectations are low. Coffee passes through 50 or more steps from seed to cup, and choices at each step affect quality. Sometimes I can tell that nearly every step went awry.

On June 26 of this year, I was pleased to be part of a wide-ranging discussion of coffee quality with two worker-owners of one of my favorite coffee companies: Equal Exchange. This was a public presentation via Zoom, for citizen-consumers all over the United States. If you have not already seen it, I invite you to watch the archive video, as we talk about the positive correlation between the relationships with farmers and the final quality in the cup. 

I provide links and put the discussion in context with two separate blog posts -- Fair Trade on my Aw, Professor blog and Micro Quality on this one. 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Virtual Café

I try to learn something new about coffee every day. Friends who grow coffee or are otherwise involved in the coffee industry often help to make this happen -- as do those who have studied coffee with me. Sometimes they recommend a new café or ask me a question to which I do not know the answer. Most recently it was a coffee alum sharing this video and asking "what is this contraption?"
I had never seen one of these, but told her that it is similar to a vacuum press. These are more popular in Japan than in the U.S., though I do have one. It is shown in somewhat improper use in the 1961 "This Is Coffee" video that I show in my classes. But this is clearly more complicated -- on my second viewing I realized that it is, among other things, a steampunk variant on the usual model.

To learn more, I decided to find the café online. For a while, my endeavors were quite confusing. Eventually, I learned that the cafè is an extension of an elaborate persona developed by the barista shown above. The Dungeons & Dragons reference is not immediately clear, but to those whose misspent youth included countless hours gathered around graph paper "dungeons" and rolling dice, the elaborate nature of this faux café does seem a reasonable outgrowth of the game. 

I don't think we I can replicate this coffee, though I'm sure one of my industry friends will tell me if I can. Meanwhile, the virtual tavern is a delightful place to visit for wit and insight on many topics. 


As I was closing some of the many open tabs in my browser, I noticed that my search for "vacuum press" has also revealed the name of this contraption. It is a balance syphon coffee maker and it is available from a certain global retailer. I will see if it is available elsewhere before I decide whether to add one to my fleet of coffee makers.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Not So Long Ago


The image above has been circulating online this year. If someone can tell me the original source, I would love to add a citation. I could spend the rest of this week commenting on it, because it relates to so much of what is wrong in the United States today. I will, in fact, no doubt be editing this post. 

But for now I am using it to refer to one of the many ways in which the "get over it" response to racial injustice is wrong: the practice of redlining. I have heard the term for many years, but learned only recently that maps were published with actual red lines on them. The importance of this practice is included in a PowerPoint file posted by Shane Wiegand for the Landmark Society.

More specifically, a digital atlas of such maps has been published as Mapping Inequality by the University of Richmond. This is a very important resource that details the practice and allows users to see how specific urban neighborhoods were characterized for the purpose of lending authorities during the 1930s. It is impossible to suppose that such stark definitions of desirable and undesirable neighborhoods could be without consequence today.

Sunday, September 20, 2020


On the eve of autumn -- just as the air crispened and my favorite librarian updated our living-room altar for the season -- I chanced upon this image of the 2020 edition of the #FightEvilReadBooks t-shirt. Yes, it apparently is a series, one of many nifty items for bibliophiles offered by Out of Print.

The design serves as an important reminder -- and in these benighted times we need these often -- that the best antidote to ignorance and bias is simply to read well and read broadly. National hero Rep. John Lewis (taken from us this summer, a week before the loss of my own mother) put it well when receiving the National Book Award: Just Read (please listen to his words, even if you are already convinced).

Reading is also the most reliable pathway to good writing, as I detail on my Writing Tips page.

For more specific advice on reading in an ecosystem designed to thwart genuine learning, I recommend the lessons from top journalists that I describe in my 2017 Emotional Skepticism post.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Fire Resistance

Forests have evolved with fire. Humans entered forested landscapes very late in those complicated relationships, with results that have ranged from problematic to catastrophic. In California, for example, more land burned this week in early September than in all of last year. 

Fires have been. getting more dangerous, expensive, and common. This story gives the best quick overview of how this situation has come about, why it cannot be solved easily, and which human factors can be addressed. 

Five minutes is not enough time to thoroughly explain all of this, but sharp NPR reporters found the right experts to introduce the problem and some remedies.

To learn more, please explore some of the other forest fire posts on this blog or take my Land Protection class (GEOG 332) in Fall 2021 to learn more. 

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Acknowledging Lands

I have lived in many parts of Turtle Island:

  • Pauquunaukit (Wampanoag)
  • Carrizo/Comecrudo & Coahuiltecan
  • Hohokam, O'odham, Sobaipuri, Tohono O'odham (Papago)
  • Adena, Hopewell, Miami, Shawandasse Tula (Shawanwaki/Shawnee), Wazhazhe Manzhan (Osage)
  • Piscataway
  • Kaw (Kansa), Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Očeti Sakówin (Sioux), Wazhazhe Manzhan (Osage)
  • Manahoac
  • Nacotchtank (Anacostan), Piscataway

These are the original inhabitants of all of the places I have resided in the United States, known by their current names (in reverse order of my time residing in each):

  • Bridgewater and Fairhaven, Massachusetts
  • Pharr, Texas
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Oxford, Ohio
  • Catonsville and Annapolis, Maryland
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Nokesville, Chantilly, and Herndon, Virginia
  • Washington, District.of Columbia
I highlighted in blue the names that were familiar to me at the time I lived in some of the places. As a non-indigenous resident of Massachusetts, Ohio, and Arizona, I have been aware of some but not all of the indigenous people of those places. In Arizona, I had occasional indirect contact with Tohono O'odham people during ceremonies, including one to which the public was invited on their reservation land and another that was an ecumenical service at my church there. In Massachusetts, I have had the privilege of much more direct contact and friendship with Wampanoag neighbors and colleagues. 
Sachem Rock in what is now West Bridgewater, Massachusetts

In Ohio, the university I attended and the lake where I did my master's thesis were named for the Miami people, but the people themselves had long ago been forcibly removed to Florida (not to the part where the relatively new city by that name is located) and then to reservations elsewhere. To its shame, the university used a slur for its team names, and alumni who will not accept the new Redhawks name can still find the old logo in online stores. 

I notice two things about the geography of the indigenous land uses. First, 

I found the names of indigenous people associated with each of my homes by sending the common names by text to 907-312-5085. More information, caveats, and a Facebook Messenger option are posted on the Land Acknowledgement page established by Code for Anchorage (Dena'ina Elnena).

Monday, August 31, 2020

Plantation Discourses

The story of Dutch podcast partners Peggy Bouva and Maartje Duin began with an awkward conversation about the connections between their families. Both live in Holland, but Duin -- a journalist -- discovered that they were connected by a plantation in the former Dutch colony of Suriname.

They discuss their podcast, their friendship, and their travels together in a recent appearance with Joanna Kakissis on NPR's Morning Edition. (Careful listeners will notice that "slaves" is used as a noun in the introduction to the conversation, though "enslaved persons" is used in the conversation itself. This reflects a growing recognition that it is dehumanizing to identify people solely by the bad circumstances or crimes that have affected them.)

Although the podcast itself appears to be available only in Dutch at the moment, Google Translate offers some sense of the summary of each episode of The Plantation of Our Ancestors in other languages, and includes links to other resources, some of which are available in English. These include Mapping Slavery NL, which portrays historical places relating to slavery on the map of the Dutch colonial empire.

The description of the mapping project highlights on advantage Dutch and some other European folks have over those of us in the United States: they know that their countries were part of the metropol, that is, at the centers of global empires. Denial of its imperial nature is a treasured myth in my country, even though no empire has ever been bigger.

As pro-slavery statues are toppled by vote, by edict, or by protestors, some decry the loss of history. In most cases, however, the history remains to be uncovered, whatever happens to icons of bronze men on bronze horses. As we finally grapple seriously with the ongoing implications of slavery, conversations such as those between these Bouva and Duin are essential. 


Even at my seemingly far remove, I have derived a benefit from the ill-gotten glories of Holland's trafficking in humans. Among the artists supported by that immense wealth are both Rembrandt and Vermeer. My answer to the Getty Art Challenge of 2020 was a recreation of Vermeer's The Geographer

My entry in the Getty Art Challenge, special edition for Pride Week.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Angola's Singer, Sprinter ... and Geographer


Bonga Kueda: His beard is no simple matter

Harry Graham's 2018 interview with Angolan musician Bonga Kueda is a half hour very well spent. It is an engaging conversation with an artist whose life traces the arc of modern Angolan history. He describes his journey from music to running and back to music, all while telling Angola's colonial and post-colonial story. The stories of independence in Angola, Cabo Verde, and other Lusophone nations are intertwined with the 1975 fall of Salazar in Portugal itself. 

These events are much more recent than many of our contemporaries seem to think; it is almost to soon to talk about post-colonialism.

The conversation is presented for an English-speaking audience, but Bantu, Portuguese, and French are heard in the background throughout. Despite the deep pain Portugal has caused for his country, the main interview takes place by phone from a barber shop in Lisbon.

I add the label "geographer" to his story even though it is not cited in the interview. Growing up in colonial schools, Bonga had to learn the rivers of Portugal, but his own country was not part of the curriculum. At a young age, he taught himself the geography of his own country and took "Bonga" as a way of rejecting the name given him at birth as the subject of an empire. It is therefore quite ironic that he conducts the interview quite in the seat of that empire.


When looking for the music of Bonga online, I found a recording of Sodade that he made with Cabo Verde's national treasure Cesária Evora.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Shifting Wheels


Biking in Chicago (a city I now visit regularly)
Image: David Schaper, NPR

As people start to move about a little more -- perhaps too much more -- many of us are doing so differently than we did before. Until a vaccine is found -- and taken widely -- transportation patterns are shifting. In a brief radio piece, Journalist David Schaper explores the shifting patterns that are already noticeable. He then discusses which of these patterns might become permanent, and the degree to which some of the changes fit with long-term goals of city planners.

I will be sharing this story with students in my urban geography and global thinking courses. Those who wish to explore the topic further might also enjoy the free CitiesX course I am taking online at Harvard.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Brockton Honors

In the Fall 2020 semester, I will be teaching a First-Year Seminar entitled Discovering Brockton, which I first offered under the title Geography of Brockton in 2008, when the First-Year Seminar requirement at Bridgewater State University was new. To date, I have taught the course five or six times, most recently as a Commonwealth Honors course.

GEOG 199: Whether a student is a life-long resident or a newcomer to the area, this provides a deep introduction both to the City of Brockton and the academic discipline of geography. The city’s rich heritage of innovation and its many layers of cultural identity are the background for examining challenges ranging from water supply to economic development. The course meets only once per week so that students have the opportunity to visit – in a university vehicle – the city’s people, cultural landscape, and key institutions through direct visits. Students are responsible for significant writing and research between weekly class meetings, so that each meeting can maximize time in the City of Champions.  
Each student in the class will explore the boundary between the City of Brockton and
one of the eight towns it borders. Contrasts between cities and towns - whether tangible
or intangible - are hugely important to understanding the
 geographies of Massachusetts.

The Bridge
: years ago, a young person I met at a conference helped me to find a metaphor for my teaching that has proven helpful ever since. (I have tried in vain to find her again to express my thanks, but it has not been possible; that is another story.) Rather than mastering content that I deliver to students, I endeavor to connect them to ideas and to other people from whom they (and I) can learn. This course has been a perfect example -- I do have some insights and theoretical perspectives to share directly, and also some places I can take students where they can develop some of their own ideas. But in this course, I am often just that bridge (or chauffeur) connecting them to some real expertise. Quite a few people have helped with this course in the past, and I will be calling on some of them -- and some new connections -- this year.

FALL 2020: I am offering this course fully online, because required social-distancing standards cannot reasonably be met. This means that the popular van rides in and around the city will not be possible. I will be recording some of the walking and "windshield survey" mini-tours on my own, realizing that they will not be quite the same. Likewise, I am asking some of the people with whom I normally would arrange for in-person meetings to provide connections in other ways, whether it be Zoom meetings, pre-recorded presentations, or reference to online materials about their organizations or projects.

The class is scheduled 1:50 to 4:30 on Wednesdays. I will use some of that time for my own presentations. To provide for breaks and to simplify the scheduling of guests, I will endeavor to have guest speakers at 2:00 and 3:00, for up to 50 minutes. Some group guests might occupy both slots on a given day.

It is in fact for these potential collaborators that I created this blog post, by way of providing context for the favors I am asking of them.


A brief note about the FYS and SYS series of courses: FYS Geography of Brockton was one of a small group of pilot courses before the requirement as finalized. Before teaching the course, I even joined several Bridgewater State College (as we were known then) colleagues at a conference in Tucson organized by the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience. I also piloted the Secret Life of Coffee as a Second-Year seminar the following year, and have taught about 20 sections of that course.

Students enrolled at Bridgewater State University during their first or second year (by credit count, not calendar) are required to take First- and Second-Year Seminars, respectively. Our advising program specifies the exceptions for students arriving with transfer credits, but for most students, these courses are integral to our Core Curriculum. The seminars allow students to practice writing or speaking skills in the context of a particular topic that is of special interest to the faculty member who is leading the course. 

Blog Ideas

coffee (25) GEOG381 (22) GEOG388 (20) GEOG470 (18) geography (16) climate change (15) GEOG130 (12) GEOG332 (12) GEOG431 (10) musica (10) Brazil (8) Mexico (8) Texas (8) education (8) GEOG286 (7) migration (7) GEOG199 (6) GEOG298 (6) Massachusetts (6) US-Mexico (6) borderlands (6) deBlij04 (6) GEOG287 (5) cultural geography (5) fair trade (5) food (5) geographic education (5) immigration (5) nicaragua (5) Arizona (4) GEOG171 (4) GEOG295 (4) GEOG331 (4) Safina (4) climate justice (4) deBlij05 (4) music (4) politics (4) water (4) Bolivia (3) Boston (3) Ethiopia (3) Managua (3) Obama (3) africa (3) border (3) cartography (3) drought (3) libraries (3) pesticides (3) suburban sprawl (3) trade (3) unemployment (3) Alaska (2) Amazon (2) Bridgewater (2) COVID-19 (2) Canada (2) Chiapas (2) China (2) Colonialism (2) EPA (2) EarthView (2) Economy (2) Environment (2) GEOG 332 (2) GEOG 381 (2) Google Maps (2) Government (2) Hawaii (2) India (2) Lexington (2) Maldives (2) Mozambique (2) NPR (2) National Monuments (2) National Parks (2) Religion (2) Rio Grande (2) Taunton River Wild and Scenic (2) Tex-Mex (2) The View from Lazy Point (2) United States (2) Venezuela (2) anthropocene (2) cape verde (2) censorship (2) central america (2) chocolate (2) corn (2) deBlij07 (2) deforestation (2) demographic transition (2) demography (2) education reform (2) employment (2) environmental geography (2) film (2) global warming (2) islands (2) land protection (2) librarians (2) maps (2) organic (2) peak oil (2) refugees (2) sense of place (2) soccer (2) sustainability (2) television (2) water rights (2) whales (2) #bbc (1) #nicaragua (1) #sosnicaragua (1) #sosnicaragua #nicaragua (1) ACROSS Lexington (1) Accents (1) Adam at Home (1) Alice (1) Alt.Latina (1) American Hustle (1) April (1) Association of american Geographers (1) Audubon (1) Aunt Hatch's Lane (1) BSU (1) Baby Boomers (1) Banda Aceh (1) Bay Circuit Trial (1) Bechtel (1) Beleza Tropical (1) Belize (1) Beloit College (1) Ben Linder Cafe (1) Bet The Farm (1) Bhopal (1) Bikeway (1) Bill Gates (1) Bill Moyers (1) Boeing 777 (1) Brazilian (1) Brazilianization (1) Bridge (1) British Columbia (1) Bus Fare (1) Bush (1) Cabo Verde (1) California (1) Cambridge (1) Cape Cod Bay (1) Carl Stafina (1) Catholic (1) Ceuta (1) Chalice (1) Chipko (1) Citgo (1) Climate risks (1) Cochabamba (1) Common Core (1) Commuter (1) Computers (1) Cuba (1) Cups and Summits (1) Dallas (1) David Byrne (1) Deans Beans (1) Delaware Valley (1) Detroit (1) Dunkin Donuts (1) Earth Day (1) Earth View (1) Easton (1) El Salvador (1) Elizabeth Warren (1) Ellicott City (1) Emilia Laime (1) English-only (1) Environmental History (1) Euphrates (1) European Union (1) Evo Morales (1) FIFA (1) Fades Out (1) Farms (1) Food Trade (1) Frederick Kaufman (1) French press (1) Fresh Pond Mall (1) GEOG 171 (1) GEOG 441 (1) GEOG213 (1) GEOG490 (1) Garden of Gethsemane (1) Gas wells (1) General Motors (1) Gini Coefficient (1) Girl in the Cafe (1) Google (1) Gordon Hempton (1) Gravina Island Bridge (1) Great Molasses Flood (1) Guy Lombardo (1) Hawks (1) Heart (1) Higher Education (1) History (1) Holyhok Lewisville (1) Homogenous (1) How Food Stopped Being Food (1) Hugo Chavez (1) IMF (1) Iditarod (1) Imperial Valley (1) Income Inequality (1) Indonesia (1) Iraq (1) Irish (1) Japan (1) Junot Diaz (1) Kenya (1) Ketchikan (1) Key West (1) Kindergarden Students (1) King Corn (1) Kiribati (1) Latin America (1) Limbaugh (1) Louisiana (1) Love Canal (1) Luddite (1) M*A*S*H (1) MCAS (1) MacArthur Genius (1) Maersk (1) Malaysia (1) Malaysian Air Flight 370 (1) Mali (1) Manu Chao (1) Map (1) Marblehead (1) Mary Robinson Foundation (1) Maryland (1) Massachusetts Bay Colony (1) Math (1) Maxguide (1) May (1) Maya (1) Mayan (1) Mayan Gold (1) Mbala (1) McDonald's (1) Melilla (1) Mexicans (1) Michael Pollan (1) Michelle Obama (1) Micronesia (1) Military (1) Military Dictatorship (1) Minuteman Trail (1) Mongolia (1) Monsanto (1) Montana (1) Morocco (1) Mount Auburn Cemetery (1) Muslim (1) NOLA (1) Nantucket (1) National Education Regime (1) Native American (1) Native Americans (1) New Bedford (1) New Hampshire (1) New York City (1) New York Times (1) No Child Left Behind Act (1) Norquist (1) North Africa (1) Nuts (1) Oaxaca (1) Occupeligo (1) Occypy (1) Oklahoma (1) Oklahoma City (1) Oppression (1) PARCC (1) Pakistan (1) Pascal's Wager (1) Peanut (1) Pearson Regime (1) Philadelphia (1) Philippines (1) Pink Unicorns (1) Poland (1) Portuguese (1) Protest (1) Public Education (1) Puebla (1) Puritans (1) Quest University (1) Rachel Carson (1) Reading (1) Republican (1) Retro Report (1) Robert Reich (1) Rock Legend (1) Ronald Reagan (1) Rondonia (1) SEXCoffee (1) Safety (1) Samoza (1) Sandino (1) Sara Vowell (1) Save the Children (1) Scotch (1) Scotland (1) Seinfeld (1) Senegal (1) Sergio Mendes (1) Severin (1) Sharrod (1) Silent Spring (1) Sinatra (1) Slope (1) Somalia (1) Sombra (1) Sonora (1) Sonoran desert (1) Sonoran hot dog (1) South America (1) Spain (1) Stairway to Heaven (1) Storm (1) Suare Inch of Silence (1) Sumatra (1) Swamp (1) Tacloban (1) The Amazon (1) The Amazon Trail (1) Tigris (1) Tucson (1) Tufts (1) U.S Federal Reserve (1) U.S Government (1) U.S. economy (1) USDA (1) USLE Formula (1) Uganda (1) Unfamiliar Fishes (1) Union Carbide (1) Vacation (1) Vexillology (1) Vietnam (1) ViralNova (1) WNYC Data News (1) Wall Street (1) Walsenburg (1) Walt Disney (1) Walt and El Grupo (1) Ward's Berry Farm (1) West (1) Whaling (1) Wilson (1) Winter Storm Saturn (1) Wisconsin (1) World Bank (1) Xingu (1) YouTube (1) Zombies (1) agriculture (1) antitrust (1) aspen (1) austerity (1) aviation (1) banned books (1) bark beetle (1) bean (1) bicycle (1) bicycling (1) bike sharing (1) binary (1) biodiversity (1) bioneers (1) books (1) boston globe (1) cacao (1) cafe (1) campaign (1) campus (1) cantonville (1) capitals (1) carbon dioxide (1) carbon offsets (1) carioca (1) cash (1) cashews (1) census (1) chemex (1) chemistry (1) chronology (1) churrasco (1) coffee grounds (1) coffee hell (1) coffee prices (1) coffee quality (1) college (1) compost (1) computerized test (1) congress (1) conservation commission (1) corporations (1) countries (1) cubicle (1) dams (1) deBlij06 (1) deBlij08 (1) death (1) deficit (1) development (1) dictatorship (1) distracted learning (1) distraction (1) drug war (1) dtm (1) earth (1) economic diversification (1) economic geography (1) election (1) embargo (1) energy (1) enhanced greenhouse effect (1) environmentalist (1) ethnomusicology (1) exremism (1) failed states (1) farming (1) financial crisis (1) football (1) forest fire (1) forestry (1) forro (1) fracking (1) free market (1) free trade (1) fuel economy (1) garden (1) genocide (1) geography education (1) geography games (1) geography of chocolate (1) geography of food (1) geologic time (1) geotechnology (1) gerrymandering (1) global pizza (1) globe (1) green chemistry (1) ground water (1) guacamole (1) guatemala (1) high-frutcose (1) home values (1) hospitality (1) hourglass (1) housing (1) illegal aliens (1) income (1) indigenous (1) interfaith (1) journalism (1) kitchen garden (1) labor (1) landscape ecology (1) language (1) libertarianism (1) library (1) linguistics (1) little rock (1) llorona; musica (1) macc (1) maccweb (1) maple syrup (1) mapping (1) masa no mas (1) massland (1) medical (1) mental maps (1) mi nina (1) microlots (1) microstates (1) mining (1) mltc (1) monopoly (1) municipal government (1) nautical (1) neoclassical economics (1) new england (1) newseum (1) newspapers (1) noise pollution (1) pandas (1) petroleum (1) piracy (1) pirates (1) poison ivy (1) police (1) political geography (1) pollution (1) provincial government (1) proxy variables (1) public diplomacy (1) quesadilla (1) rabbi (1) racism (1) real food cafe (1) regulations (1) remittances (1) resilience (1) resistance (1) respect (1) rigoberta menchu (1) rios montt (1) romance (1) roya (1) runways (1) russia (1) satellites (1) science (1) sea level (1) selva negra (1) sertao (1) sertão (1) sex (1) sex and coffee (1) simple (1) sin (1) smokey (1) solar (1) solar roasting (1) south africa (1) sovereignty (1) species loss (1) sporcle (1) sports (1) state government (1) taxes (1) tea party (1) teaching (1) textile (1) texting (1) tortilla (1) training (1) transect; Mercator (1) travel (1) triple-deckers (1) tsunami (1) utopia (1) vermont (1) vice (1) video (1) wall (1) water resources (1) water vapor (1) whiskey (1) whisky (1) widget (1) wifi (1) wild fire (1) wildfire (1) wildlife corridor (1) wto (1)