Coffee Log, Day 249

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

It’s a certified fact that I live in a country that spent $320,000 on coffee mugs for the Air Force at $1200 a piece, just since 2016. Chew on that for a second.

It was too windy to be comfortable outside and too bright-hot in the car to be comfortable with the air off so I took lunch in the office today. I read news. I got caught by budget articles. There was a Senate review led by Grassley on unnecessary expenditures. When they were interviewing the Air Force rep about the mugs, the initial estimate coming out of Grassley’s mouth was $56K. It was the rep who had to correct the figure to six times that much. There was no conclusion to the story, only a lot of talk on how the mugs were self heating and had secret military tech to plug into the jets. Grassley told him to fix it and he said they’d started 3D printing the handles for repairs. Turns out – like thick fudge icing on the gooiest cake – these cups have their handles break at alarming rates.

Meanwhile, Trump’s upped the military force at our Southern border to 5200. They’ve got vests and guns and camo and presumably a lot of hours teaching them the right ways to shoot a man. Meanwhile, the migrant migration is down to 3500. That’s one-and-a-half armed soldiers to every scared, starved, landless mother or father or three-year-old with a bit of freedom stuck in their eye, and that’s 5200 self-heating, highly classified coffee mugs to keep the soldiers’ drinks warm. If you’re only counting dollars, that’s a maximum of $6,240,000 on mugs alone (and really, we might as well give each of them a mug, right? Fair is fair). Meanwhile, the cost in our collective American conscience is much higher.

I have that afternoon daydream of $320,000 of opportunity wrapped in white beds and red cooked food and blue immigration Visas, but like daylight in the winter, it quickly fades.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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Grassley: The 60th Aerial Port Squadron at Travis Air Force Base has reportedly spent $56,000 on replacing hot cups since 2016. How many cups have been purchased by the Air Force during this timeframe, and what is the total cost of these purchases?

Wilson: The item in question is a specially manufactured electronic water-heater that plugs into aircraft systems. Because it connects to the aircraft, replacements require FAA airworthiness certification. The Air Force has purchased 391 of these items since 2016 at a total cost of $326,785 …” – taken from a Business Insider article by ; Article

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Coffee Log, Day 184

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

There goes August: running fast enough to trip itself.

I read an article about the ‘A-Team’ on NPR. Not the TV series, but rather the short-lived 1970’s experiment dreamed up to answer widespread migrant worker protests. It happened in California, mostly, and involved granting crop-picking jobs to white high schoolers for the summer. The act passed Congress on the heels of ‘They’re taking our jobs!’ It singled out the best and brightest, the most active white boys for the honor. Within three days of the first year, 200 kids had quit. Those who stuck out the six-day weeks at minimum wage talked about it like an earthbound Hell.

The privilege to walk away.

Not much has changed. Farm labor is still largely migrant labor; or, if you’re in Eastern NC tobacco farms, it’s seven or eight year-olds who pick all day and sometimes miss school. Regardless, it’s hard, unloved work given to people who are most desperate. Five centimeters past slavery, in other words. No wonder our country can’t stomach loading it on well-to-do white boys.

I sit in the shade. Cold tea, new book. September mentions herself in a nice breeze, we exchange calendars and contacts. Autumn ease, there’s not a cloud in sight. Somewhere west of here, another 28-yr-old man bakes until his skin comes off, blood on knuckles, only knowing the sadistic love of burrs and melon seed.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich; FINISHED!! Will have a review soon

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“The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.” – Cesar Chavez
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Coffee Log, Day 174

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

On the way to work, I caught a report on NPR: an unaccompanied minor detention facility in Shenandoah, VA has been cleared of all allegations of child abuse; incidentally, the inspection that cleared them also documented cases of migrant children restrained to chairs with mesh bags placed over their heads.

So anyway, I turned the station to 102.1, heard the bass thump, hip-hop and traffic, it was blue skies with gray clouds, later in the day it rained. I worked eight hours. I clocked cash, counted time. My coworkers: vibrant. If it was busy, we worked well together. If it was slow, we shot the breeze.

If you google pictures of the Shenandoah facility (which I did) you see a pack of picketers outside a building that could just as easily be a library. It’s blue there too, though I guess the kids don’t see it, and someone’s trimmed the bushes, though I guess the kids don’t see it, and even though there were only fifty protestors it’s still something, waving signs in solidarity like high-school colorguard, done in the honor of kids who won’t see it because they’ve got mesh bags on their heads and tight straps on their legs.

I’d packed lunch. Pasta – red sauce, soy chorizo – I sat in the break room while the microwave spun the plastic container. Beep! My phone was on, it’s always on, I texted two friends while I ate the pasta then I took a walk through the parking lot where the rain had stopped and the lot was cool, a good breeze. I sat in the car and listened to five more minutes of NPR but they were doing a food show. I turned it back to 102.1 and swiped Tinder; pretty smiles, so many possibilities for a Friday night I can afford to flick them away forever.

On Google, the other pictures of the holding facility lacked protesters but the building still looked like a library. Long, angular, brick. A trim sign. It’s fitting, really: a house of knowledge; kids learning important lessons: if you’re young, poor, friend and fatherless, the Land of the Free tins you in a confinement can, bags you like an execution, ties up your dignity, then signs off on it.

Cleared of abuse.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” – George Washington
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