Spiders, Cats, and Coffee Shops

A bin filled to overflowing with Starbucks cof...
A bin filled to overflowing with Starbucks coffee paper cups. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are very few Starbucks locations in Manhattan which are empty. I found one of them – a store near the corner of 7th Avenue and 38th Street in Midtown – a few blocks from Penn Station. It’s a Sunday afternoon. My wife and I have already been through a few other Starbucks while killing some time before a 2pm commitment. The others were crowded beyond any chance of being able to find a comfortable place to sit. Finally we decided to take a stroll through Staples instead. Staples is always a good place to spend time if you are just “killing” time.

But now my wife is at her 2pm commitment. And I, after exploring a bit the neighborhood near the Om Factory, am sitting in the loft space of the emptiest Starbucks I have ever seen. It’s nice. I am writing in my “diary” because that’s what I am doing nowadays, while I am attending a four-week diary-writing workshop at the Anne Frank Center in Manhattan. My diary is a Lenovo netbook with a fairly minimal installation of Ubuntu Linux, and all journal entries will be uploaded to my blog (which is where you are likely reading this) as soon as I get a wireless connection to the Internet.

Starbucks is a nice store, overall. I used to not like them, because I was young and they were corporate. Many people say their coffee is bitter but I think it tastes fine, just that the portions are too large. I can’t imagine downing one of the slurpee-sized concoctions that many people order from the fancy menu. The fanciest drink I have ever gotten at a Starbucks was a Frappuccino, but I haven’t had that in years. Next fanciest is a cappuccino. Often it’s just a small coffee, which they call “tall.” It annoys me when they call the small coffee tall, because I really think it is more “fat” that “tall,” but as long as I can convince the coffee clerk to pour mine right away and not make me wait on the line behind all the chai and latte orders then I don’t mind too much.

I do wish they provided free WiFi, though – I think all public locations should have free (and secure) WiFi, nowadays.

My cat (well, my wife’s cat who we both take care of) was recently diagnosed with a liver disorder. What that means for us is that she has lost a lot of weight and we need to figure out how to both get her weight back up to a better amount and also get her overall body chemistry working more normally. It’s not really clear how you do that. When you try to read about it online you will find lots of information about how to treat a cat or dog with liver problems, but the treatments that everyone talks about seem to be specific to pets – the same medication doesn’t really seem to be used on people. Or at least if it is then I can’t find a good way to read about that or verify that. I’m not sure if that means the treatments for humans are just too impractical or expensive to provide to a pet, or if there is some other reason why there seems to be a disconnect between human studies of liver disorders and what people do for their pets. If the treatment for a cat is not effective in humans too, then I’m not sure what the point is of trying it. After all, a typical cat treatment is very difficult on the pet – between all the pills being jammed down the throat, the poking for blood tests, trips to the vet, possible side-effects – whatever good you might do while treating your pet, a lot of that good is, I believe, wiped away by the negative stress of the treatment itself.

Yesterday I killed a mouse spider. I found it walking across the living room ceiling – all of a sudden I looked up and it was right there, in the middle. My wife claims that she killed a similar spider a few days ago, but I know that she actually just knocked it around a bit with a pillow. I got the Windex, and took care of it that way. I feel bad, of course. But aside from using the vacuum it was the only way I could really get the thing without risking have it run all over me or having to crush it.

It was BIG. And kind of freaky looking. Even my wife was scared when she saw it and she’s not even afraid of fiddler crabs or any spider I’ve ever seen her confront (she usually uses a pillow to knock them onto my head, swinging wildly at the ceiling or a corner of the top wall that she can barely reach).

From what I’ve read, mouse spiders are a bit dangerous. It’s true, I am not certain that this one was a mouse spider. But of the list of common house and yard spiders I looked at, this was the only one which seemed to look like my big, hairy monster. I’m glad it is gone but now I look up at the ceiling all the time to be sure it is not back. I know that spiders are good for the world, but I would like the world better without them.

I’ve noticed that Starbucks is a lot quieter if you are up in the loft area above. I just noticed that the coffee clerk down there has been making lots of cappuccino and latte drinks, but I’ve barely heard any of them. The loudest thing I hear is the air conditioning and the crunching when he scoops ice into an iced coffee.

Pretty soon, everyone who comes in will be ordering a iced coffee drink. In a few weeks, if I want a hot coffee I will have to carefully explain my order since otherwise they will just assume I want it iced. Time marches on. Soon our wonderfully mild weather will be uncomfortably hot and humid most days.

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