Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “cafe”

New Author On The Block

My friend, John Byrne Barry has a novel coming out. John is a political activist and has channeled this passion into fiction. We bonded through a shared aspiration to help inspire people to act through affiliation with characters who fight for social justice. 

Perhaps you can join me at John’s book launch on Sunday at the Mo’Joe cafe in Berkeley – I can attest to the good coffee and healthy Middle Eastern food.   

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, The First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+

Coffee – I Couldn’t Resist

I couldn’t resist. I went into Dictionary.com to check a spelling and this was on the banner (who said people don’t read those banner ads).

ARE LATTES ESPRESSO OR CAPPUCCINO? 

This is my kind of question, especially on a chilly San Francisco morning as I sit hugging my espresso drink, or it a cappuccino? And definitely as I sit in this charming little coffee shop near the Embarcadero trying desperately hard not to listen to two young ladies who are analyzing whether one was right to tell her relatively new boyfriend that he couldn’t drop by to just talk as she was in bed.

So you see there was no way this had any chance of being a serious post. Oh, and for those of you who are not clear on their caffaine-related definitions:

1. cafe au lait

(n.) hot coffee served with an equal amount of hot or scalded milk.

2. cafe brulot

(n.) black coffee flavored with sugar, lemon and orange rinds, cloves, cinnamon, and brandy, ignited and allowed to flame briefly.

3. cafe con leche

(n.) strong, black coffee mixed with hot milk.

4. cafe creme

(n.) coffee with cream.

5. cafe filtre

(n.) coffee made by pouring hot water through ground coffee placed in a filtering device.

6. cafe noir

(n.) black coffee.

7. caffe latte

(n.) hot espresso with steamed milk, usually topped with foamed milk.

8. cappuccino

(n.) a hot beverage consisting of espresso coffee and steamed milk, often served with powdered cinnamon and topped with whipped cream.

9. espresso

(n.,) a strong coffee prepared by forcing live steam under pressure, or boiling water, through ground dark-roast coffee beans.

10. irish coffee

(n.) a mixture of hot coffee and Irish whiskey, sweetened and topped with whipped cream.
11. latte
(n.) hot espresso with steamed milk, usually topped with foamed milk.

12. mocha

(n.) a flavoring obtained from a coffee infusion or a combined infusion of chocolate and coffee.

13. turkish coffee

(n.) a strong, usually sweetened coffee, made by boiling the pulverized coffee beans.
Now excuse me. I need to order my cup of green tea.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Empty Shelves

Whenever I enter the house of someone who I have just met, I look for defining features. What books are on their shelves? What CD’s do they listen to? What art is on their walls?

I recently visited two long-time friends. They are book-people and bookcases adorn every room. Books spill out onto the floor, a pile sits in the bathroom, and their garage, where I have crashed at various times of my life, has precarious towers of crumple covered books. Their walls are also covered in pictures. They are ‘stuff’ people.

Both these people are tech savvy. Their music has long been stored on iPods and there are hardly any audio footprints around the house except for iPod docking stations. But on this visit I was confronted by two paper bags full of books and piles of others sorted on their dinning room table.

“We are in the middle of a project,” one offers apologetically.

“We have almost everything digital now,” the iPad partner offered with the confidence unmoved by the appearance of the iPad 2 within a couple of months since he first brandished his new toy in my house.


A few days later I picked up my youngest son from a play date with a friend whose parents I had not met. Their house was the opposite to my friends: quite empty in comparison. There was a solitary bookcase, stored asthetically with art books sorted by size, and a few modern eye-catching pictures adorned the walls of cafes and jazz musicians.

What did I think of these people? What was my first impression and what were my frames of reference? I had few books to scan, no CD’s and little in the way of art.


It was tough. I had no choice. I had to resort to conversation. In a world of texting and tweeting, of Facebook profiles and LinkedIn status, will the empty shelves provide the last frontier of face-to-face communication?

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Second Chances: Delancey Street Foundation

I recently participated in a webinar in which our parent organization has decided to institute background checks for all potential employees. They took us through the process and finally told us about the potential skeletons in people’s closets that might be revealed.

This had me wondering for a few days after the call. When someone breaks the law in our society then they are punished. The question is whether they should be punished twice? After a person serves his/her time, pays his/her fine, why should they have to contend with potential employers judging them a second, third and many times after?

One of the biggest challenges that these people face is finding employment. Without it, they are often pushed back to the fringes where they may become exposed to the criminal world once again. The Delancey Street Foundation provides one such solution.

The Delancey Street Foundation provides employment at a great cafe, restaurant, and moving company.  Enter with a history, leave with a future is their motto. They have since added other businesses including corporate car services, paratransit, digital printing and handicraft stores.

Mimi Silbert, President & CEO:

“We said we were going to take ex-convicts and ex-addicts and teach them to be teachers, general contractors, and truck drivers. They said it couldn’t be done. We said we were going to take 250 people who had never worked and had no skills and teach them to build a 400,000 square foot complex as our new home on the waterfront. They said it couldn’t be done. We said we were going to partner with colleges and get people who started out functionally illiterate to achieve bachelor of arts degrees. They said it couldn’t be done. We said we were going to run successful restaurants, moving companies, furniture making, and cafés and bookstores without any professional help. They said it couldn’t be done. We said we were going to do all this with no staff, no government funding, and no professionals. They laughed and said it couldn’t be done.”

There is a saying (I don’t recall its source): People who say something can’t be done, should stay out of the way of those who are doing it. Delancey Street is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary. They are a credit to our society and our City.

“Delancey Street is an incredible mixture of pure idealism and hard practicality. It is the best and the most successful organization I have studied in the world” —Dr. Karl Menninger
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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

 

July 15th A Time to Chill Pt. 2 – Failed!

July 15th – Posted a week later…

A hippie café with a mean latte in hand, sipped in the shadow of the snow-capped Mount Shasta. Truly a ‘Garden of Eden’. The boys are swimming in the deep blue lake, the trout are biting, and my partner and I are drinking wine in the evening by the campfire. Vacation – a time to chill, to relax, to reconnect with close ones and nature.

The mistake. I should never have put an Internet option on my cell phone. An email. An interview with a deadline…one that has passed. The sympathetic reporter has sent questions via email since she has not been able to find me.

A rescheduling of tomorrow’s vacation day incorporates a mad dash to a wireless café. Once again I am pounding the keys of my laptop. In truth, the questions are thought-provoking and an hour shoots past as I immerse myself back into the dream – to become a recognized author of transformational fiction.

Whether it is the caffeine coursing through my veins, the deadline, or the dream, I’m not sure, but I suddenly feel pleasantly wired again. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t been so relaxed, fishing pole in hand, watching an osprey compete for food.

The osprey might have the upper hand on the lake, but I feel good fishing for another dream.

Alon
http://www.alonshalev.com/

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