Workshop espresso, Sydney CBD

Workshop espresso, Sydney CBD

Workshop coffee / Toby’s Estate decaf. Shop RG01A, the Galeries Victoria, 500 George St, Sydney. Not much bigger than a hole in the wall, opposite the town hall side entrance to the QVB, there are two espresso machines and three grinders, and a kitchen out the back.

Somehow they have crammed in a bench and a series of stools, seating four or five, but their core business is clearly takeaway, and the queue is clearly evident.

The food is a little pricey, but competitive here in the CBD, and the range of sandwiches is broad.

Coffee is very good: the crema is strong, milk is well put together.

Worth a visit: I would say the best coffee on its block.

Book: Religion Saves: and nine other misconceptions

Audio Book: Religion Saves: and nine other misconceptions

Mark Driscoll is the lead pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, and this book was based on a sermon series that Mark preached at his church. Each chapter is devoted to answering a question that was crowd-sourced from visitors to the Mars Hill Church website.

Topics covered are: birth control, humour, predestination, grace, sexual sin, faith and works, dating, the emerging church and the “regulative principle” (what should a Christian do, as far as things that aren’t mentioned in the bible).

Driscoll cites a range of outside authors, and is always practical in his engagement with the questions: he certainly has a particular way that he things Christianity should be practiced, and is not shy in explaining that stance. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about with regard to Mars Hill Church, this book is as good a place to start as any.

I’ve managed to make it through the book (which you can download for free in February 2010) in my spare moments in the last couple of weks: as an audio book, it just goes onto my iPhone, I can turn up the reading speed to “2x”, and get through it in about 4-5 hours. This wasn’t just my own impatience, I found that the audio itself was a bit odd: it seems that rather than recording the whole book, for a lot of the book, the individual words have been read out, and just stitched together. At twice normal speed, this is smoothed out, and becomes easier to listen to.

My one complaint with audiobook as a format for a book like this is that it makes it far more difficult to take notes, or to determine at what point in the book was something said. That’s not a criticism of the audiobook, though, just in my approach to listening.

Le Pain Quotidien, Bondi Junction

Le Pain quotidien, Bondi Junction
Neoma organic coffee. Level 4, Oxford St bridge Bondi junction Westfield.

Despite the somewhat painful antics of the well-to-do patrons ahead of me in the queue, the wait is bearable. Seating for around 40, including communal tables on either side, is provided overlooking Oxford St, and there are wine and cheese tastings every thursday at 4pm, for $10 per head.

On the Sunday lunch shift there are 10 staff working away, including 2 on the coffee machine. There’s a decaf grinder, but instead, the decaf is sourced from an open takeaway container, so I’m not optimistic about the flavour.

Sure enough, milk dominated and lacking in flavour: if anything, the shot itself is watery.

Great range of breads and pastries, but the decaf is to be avoided.

Hebrew week two

This week, instead of driving to college, I caught the train in. This meant I had some extra time to look at this week’s homework, which only took about 25 minutes to finish. I think I spent more time than that just tellin myself I could get to it later, and that I should concentrate on vocab first.

Arriving early gave me the chance to talk to another college student, who was thinking about giving up on Greek studies, as he still hadn’t worked out the alphabet. After looking at the problem for a while, I encouraged him to spend more time doing written revision, and less time listening to audio revision: if you want to be able to read something, I think you have to be writing the script too!

Again we start class-time proper with a test. Five Hebrew words from our vocab list, translate them and then form plurals.

I’ve done a lot of vocab work this week, so the first part is easy enough

Sometimes words have (more than) two meanings

One challenge that comes with learning Hebrew is when a word has multiple definitions.

It’s worth trying to learn these definitions in order, since the earlier meanings occur more frequently than the later ones.

This means that my vocab drill process is to look at the Hebrew characters, try to convert them straight to sounds, fail, have the English letters appear in my head, make the sound of the English letters, then think of either the definition or – for a complex word – the mnemonic, and then remember the words that go with that definition.

So Torah is LIT-C: law, instruction, teaching, custom. More controversially, Nephesh (I’m told there’s no equivalent sense of this word in English) is Slipknot: soul, life, person, neck, throat.

Does anyone have any tips for learning the vocabulary of a new language, or am I doing everything right?

Concrete cafe, Pyrmont

Concrete cafe, Pyrmont

Karmee coffee. 224 Harris St, Pyrmont. I read about someone having a good meeting here on twitter, and it was about the right distance from work to make it there and back in a lunchtime walk.

Don’t be put off by the seemingly high prices, and the stylish furniture: this is still just an appealing place to pause for a cup of coffee. Various open windows and doors, and a high ceiling make this a really breezy space, and the polished concrete floor (and liquor licence) give the place a feeling somewhere between a cafe and an upmarket pub.

Arriving as late in the day as I do (mid afternoon), the staff levels are minimal, but the service is friendly and efficient. The food order is called out to an unseen kitchen, and the coffee is prepared immediately, giving me a few moments to sit and wait for my takeaway lunch.

When I see the decaf retrieved pre-ground from a plastic container, I’m briefly grateful that at least the container was sealed. To make up for the lack of coffee flavour, the coffee is really milky, with a slightly sweet note to it. It’s as good as one might hope given the state of the initial coffee it springs from.

DVD: Capote

DVD: Capote

To be honest, I was looking to rent “Children of Men”, but I couldn’t find it at the video store, so I thought I’d have a look at this one instead.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is in the title role, and it’s really a movie built around his performance. We are introduced to the author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s as a study of contradictions – he behaves one way in popular society, and quite another in his personal relationships.

In the course of the film he writes what is regarded as his greatest book – In Cold Blood
(which I haven’t read), based on a multiple murder in a Kansas farmhouse. The relationships he developed with the law enforcement officials and the murderers, and the effect this had on him provides the plot of the film.

If you’re worried about such things, there are some images of violence, and some bad language. Ultimately it’s not a movie about spectacle or set pieces, but rather about performances, and characterisation in particular.

It’s a great performance and Hoffman deserves his Oscar, but there may not be enough substance there for all viewers. If you’re particularly interested in the man or the book, it would be worth a viewing.