Home Is Where No One Else Is

December 28th, 2003  |  Published in Uncategorized

There’s been an embarrassment of riches in wireless connectivity

in the ‘hood lately. Cooper’s, the generally pleasant (more on that

later, once we position “pleasant” and “coffee shop” in relationship

to each other) and mostly undiscovered coffee shop down on Stark

St. has an unheralded access point (it feels like it’s connected to a

sloooow consumer-grade line, though, and the owners prefer the

mocha-n-laptop crowd stay away between 11 and 1), and Powell’s on

Hawthorne has one, too (haven’t tried it out). The Starbucks a block

away from there has a T-Mobile access point (but it costs money). And

there are always the


Telco nodes bobbing in and out of view, depending on where I am.

Ed’s been


a similar scavenger hunt for bandwidth in his own locale.

The problem with looking for good coffee shops with wireless

connectivity is the whole “coffee shop” part, though. For instance:

If I’ve got to go to the bathroom, am I going to leave my laptop

sitting out at my table for thieves or the merely clumsy to take/ruin?

No. So it’s getting packed up and it’s coming with me.

Cell phone talkers. At their worst in coffee shops. Gotta be

heard above the espresso machine. My primitive ape brain

responds to other primates acting out about their status

(reflected in intonation or the mere angle at which their head is

cocked), too, and makes me want to jump up on the table and yell

“ook ook!” or perhaps lick them on the forehead in a show of

dominance. No way to get work done while I’m struggling with

millions of years of our common heritage as monkeys. It doesn’t

matter that no one thinks a cell phone confers status anymore,

because people have mannerisms when they use cell phones that


when cell phones did confer status. In other words, the

inward turn of the head, the outward cock of the foot, and slow

rotation around the trunk all mean “notice me! I have wealth and riches enough to talk on the phone anywhere, and a life important enough to require this ability.” Ten years of

cellphone nonverbal cues + ten million years of social evolution =

if I look at you acting like that any longer, I will bite you and

take your woman.

Dogs. Cooper’s is “dog friendly,” and there seems to be at least

one loud dog exhibitionist buzzing through there with a curious,

panting, too-damn-big-for-the-city mutt per hour. Working with

even a relatively well-restrained dog around is impossible. At least, I’ll

admit that when an unfamiliar dog head suddenly thrusts itself

into my space to smell my crotch, I have a hard time

blowing it

off in favor of thinking up a synonym for “enterprise.” And in a

dog-friendly place, jumping up and yelling “What the fuck!” while

splashing a hot mexi-mocha all over the mutt to teach it a

valuable lesson becomes my

problem. That’s fucked up, but enough dog owners are already

o.k. with

forcing me to dodge their beast’s poo on the sidewalk that there’s

no way most of them are going to think there’s anything wrong with

letting little Muffin or Daisy or Baxter stick his snout in my


  • Bonus kvetch for dog people: Your fifty-foot-long extensa-leash is defeating the fucking purpose unless it comes with a compressor-driven retractor to take the slack out on your miserable pet before it can get at my crotch.

Cost. Staying around long enough for only one cup of coffee is

hardly worth it. I usually go for two rounds. And I like the

fancy drinks. $3.50 per grande mexi-mocha = $7/day just to be

able to soak in the ambience of using a computer wirelessly five

blocks from my home.

Music. Can’t control the music in a coffee shop. Headphones are

an option, but at that point, I’m paying $7 to completely tune out

where I am and act as if I’m in my own living room. And if I

reach down into my pants and give my balls a good scratching, the

smiles coming from behind the counter are going to become chilly

or at least strained in very little time. I’ve known plenty of

coffee shop employees. They notice things. Good regulars =

militantly normal people who come out of the bathroom smelling

like hand soap. Bad regulars = crotch scratchers, poets who share

their work with the help, and anyone who’s ever dated anyone who

works there but does so no longer.

But I loves my coffee. So the answer is simple. I’ve already got

a fast broadband connection (1.5 MB down, more than enough bandwidth),

I’ve got a decent stereo, and I’ve got a wireless access point. So:

  • Bandwidth? Check.
  • Wireless? Check.
  • Cell phone talkers? Not in my living room.
  • Dogs? There’s one next door, but he’s not getting at me that easily.
  • Freedom to scratch? Roger that.

$50 down at the local Fred Meyer got me a


Bravo. Another $7 (that’s one day of coffee at Cooper’s) got me

espresso beans to last a few weeks. A few more bucks gets me plenty

of Abuelita chocolate

to last a good long while. In a mere ten days, the thing has paid for


Is it as good as what I can get at Cooper’s? No. The steamed milk

lacks that special creamy texture, and the steam (as opposed to pump)

action of the Bravo means my spit will stay brown for only an hour or

so before normal salivation and water intake return it to normal.

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