Monday, March 22, 2004

BACK FROM HOUSTON. This American Copy Editors Society conference may have been the best yet. My presentation went well, I thought, before a standing-room-only audience. (No microphone! I mumble too much in one-on-one conversations, but I project when I have to.) My books sold out at least 24 hours before my session started -- good news and bad news, I guess. I talked to a lot of strangers. The banquet speaker was fabulous.

You can find more details along with some pictures at the ACES site and at Tom Mangan's Prints the Chaff.

Houston as a city was a bit of a disappointment, though I can't say I saw enough of it to really give it a thumbs-down. Pockets of downtown seemed to have some life, but we weren't in one of them. It's a good thing my session relied on PowerPoint rather than handouts -- I had supplemental handouts, but I couldn't find a copy shop that was open on Saturday near the hotel.

I did take a short bus ride and visit the River Oaks neighborhood. The mansions were impressive, but even more impressive was their setting. Some are right on an otherwise sort-of-skanky major street; others begin immediately off this street. You're on Kirby, and suddenly as soon as you break its plane you're in a block that looks like the most beautiful, tree-lined rich-people enclave you've ever seen.

Next year: Hollywood. If you're a copy editor, be there.

ENOUGH ON-TOPIC TALK. The Senseo coffee maker has been a huge disappointment so far. (You told me so, Craig!) I can only hold out hope that the dark-roast coffee is infinitely better than the medium and mild roasts that came with the machine. (Or that the pods I ordered from the Netherlands are different from the ones they make for Americans.) The dark roast will be better, I'm sure, but probably not infinitely better.

The thing is fast, though not as fast as advertised. There's a warm-up cycle that takes at least 90 seconds before you start the 30-second brewing process. But the taste? Hospital-cafeteria coffee comes to mind. Well, hospital-cafeteria coffee with an impressive head of crema. It's quite a sensory mismatch to see something so pretty while tasting and smelling something so ordinary. Brewing it double-strength, with two pods per small cup, helps a little, but not enough.

And somehow the device is engineered so that other manufacturers' coffee pods produce only lightly tinted water. I tried using one Douwe Egberts pod to trip the switch, if that's how they do it, and one Starbucks espresso pod to add some flavor. Again, lightly tinted water.

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