I Don’t Speak Starbucks

I am not much of a coffee drinker. I don’t have anything against coffee. I just don’t drink it. Mostly it’s because the coffee world has its own special language and apparently, I don’t speak it. It used to be you walked in and got a cup of Joe. Now you get a lean grande latte with sprinkles. I have absolutely no idea what the hell that means. Does anyone have any idea what that means?

Recently, I was in a Starbucks and I order something simple, a hot chocolate. The Barista asked me what size I wanted. The Barista, I have learned, is the name for the person who actually pours your cup of coffee. I believe it comes from the latin words, “I used to be a Vice-President at a failed dot.com.” Anyway, he asked me what size I wanted and I said “small”. “We don’t have small,” he said. “We have tall.” “I don’t want a tall”, I said. “I want a small.”

“Our tall is small,” he said.

“This makes absolutely no friggen sense,” I thought.

“So what are your other sizes,” I said.

“We have Vente and Grande,” he said.

Good, two words in a language I don’t speak.

Having had this experience, I have started to learn more about coffee. For instance, I have learned that the word “latte” is French and it means, “I just paid way too much for a cup of coffee.

The other thing I recently learned is that in whatever language Starbucks is speaking, there apparently is no word for “free refill”.

When I was a kid, every place advertised the bottomless cup of coffee. Starbucks has adapted this slightly. At $4.00 a cup, they now believe in the bottomless bank account.

I think the reason they are able to get such high a price for a cup of Joe is because they have a machine that makes really cool sounds. It sputters. It spurts. It is really, really interesting. I really want one of these.

Frankly, though, I don’t think it does a damn thing. I think it’s just the entertainment you get when you spend $4.00 for a cup of coffee. Hell, it’s a lot cheaper than a movie. Go to the movies and you pay $10, plus the popcorn, and of course the $4.00 cup of coffee.

Starbucks also offers about a million varieties of coffee. For instance, when I was in Starbucks, the Barista asked me if I would like to try the caffeine free espresso. Which led me to reply, “What’s the friggen point?” I thought the reason people drank coffee was to get a buzz. $4.00 a cup and no buzz? Again, I ask, what’s the friggen point?”

Starbucks also sells a lot of things that are not related at all to coffee. At Starbucks, you can buy greeting cards. You can buy books. You can buy CD’s. Last week, at Starbucks, I got a latte and had my refinanced my house all at the same time.

Which I only really needed because I had to pay for the latte.

There is one advantage to the Starbucks method though. I heard last week a robber held up a Starbucks. Apparently, they were able to capture him when he ordered the Barista to put all the money in the bag and the cops were able to show up before he had decided on the Tall, Vente or Grande bag.

I have just learned that in Indonesia, they have a coffee which sells for $250 a pound. Apparently it is so expensive because of how they make it. They take the coffee beans, feed them to animal and then extract the beans from the waste. For this, there are very rich people in the world willing to pay $250 a pound or roughly $20 a cup of coffee at retail. This, I believe, is God’s way of telling you, that you make way to much money.

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Copyright 2004 – 2008, Glenn G. Millar

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Not Another Christmas Letter – 2007

It’s that time of year again! Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or even Christmaka, we all hope for the same thing. We hope for peace on earth. We hope for good will towards men. But most of all we hope that when we get to the Walmart at 6:00 am on the Friday after Thanksgiving, they still have some Wii Game Systems left! Please . . .

It’s been a really big year for us. That’s right I said us.

(Sung to the tune of the Brady Bunch with apologies to Sherwood Schwartz.)

Here’s the story, of a lovely lady,
Who was bringing up two very lovely girls.
All of them liked gifts of gold, (like their mother.)
The youngest one liked pearls.

Here’s the story, of a man named Millar.
Who was busy as a good boy on his own.
He had no fun, as a swingin’ single.
‘Cause he was all alone.

Till the one day when this lady met this fella.
And they thought that they were really both quite fine.
But of all the places they could try for dating.
Can you believe they really met online?

They met online.
They met online.
Can you believe that they really met online?

Ok, now let’s get on with our story.

It all started in March of 2006 when our heroine Aileen, realized her life was missing something. Sure she was a successful, independent, businesswoman who always made time for her kids, but that wasn’t enough. She was missing that special something. Of course, I am talking about a guy to clean out the drain every time a 4-year old drops a plastic toy in there to see what might happen.

So our heroine decided to hire a Manny. Now a Manny is much like a Nanny, except of course that the Manny comes with a full set of tools and is significantly more hairy than Mary Poppins.

In July of 2007, the Manny moved in with Aileen, and on Labor Day, they became engaged. The engagement actually took place at the end of the Disneyland Half-Marathon, which both Glenn and Aileen were running. A few weeks before the race Aileen had injured her ankle so she was expecting to run really slowly. This worked perfectly with Glenn’s plan, which was to run the race faster than Aileen, meet Aileen’s family just short of the finish line, put on a Tux and wait for Aileen while holding up a sign that said, “Fairy Tales do come true. Aileen will you marry me?”

The race went as planned, almost. After running 13 miles in 85-degree heat, Glenn got to the end, threw on the tux, got out the sign and waited for his soon-to-be fiancée. That’s when Aileen came around the corner, saw her family, got really excited and then . . . just kept on going towards the finish line. Didn’t even slow down. Apparently her race time was really, really important to her. Oh, and she didn’t see the sign . . . the big sign . . . I mean the really big sign . . . that Glenn was holding up over his head . . . while wearing a Tuxedo. However, with her family screaming for her to come back, she turned around to see Glenn holding a really big diamond ring. Then she came back as fast as her little legs would carry her. And in the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Since then, Aileen has discovered that her life changed overnight. She is actually engaged to two guys. There is Summer Guy and there is Winter Guy. Winter Guy is wonderful. He’s very attentive. He always has time for her. He never forgets anything important. Winter guy is the best. Summer Guy on the other hand plays softball 4 days a week. The only thing Summer Guy remembers is how many strikeouts he threw in his last game or his season batting average. Oh, and Summer Guy is a Red Sox fan. Could there possibly be anything more disastrous? Summer Guy is headed for a very bad Fall.

Glenn has discovered his life changed as well and a whole new world has been opened to him. Glenn has become an expert at baking cupcakes for soccer games, making peanut butter sandwiches at 7:00 am for the day’s lunches and knows every word to every High School Musical song by heart. (If you are lucky enough to not understand the High School Musical reference you either don’t have girls between the ages of 3 and 18 or you are lucky . . . very lucky.)

One of the consequences of Aileen meeting Glenn (who has been a jock all his life,) has been that Aileen has attempted to keep up with him athletically. This started out as a bad idea and has gotten worse. One day, Aileen was trying to show her children how to jump off the new backyard swing. Probably would have worked too, if Aileen hadn’t been wearing high heels at the time. The next day Glenn slid into third base and twisted his knee. That’s when we learned, to our surprise, that the Valley Care ER does not give group discounts. The following week our romantic getaway in Vegas was highlighted by his and her matching crutches.

Other Aileen athletic adventures this year have included biking across the Golden Gate bridge, (fell and bruised her knee,) running across the Golden Gate Bridge in a half-marathon race (ankle injury,) and playing on her company softball team (now wears multiple safety braces.)

The rest of the year has been quite fulfilling. The girls have been playing soccer and Aileen and Glenn have become Soccer Parents. They are exactly 0.5 kids away from owning a mini-van.

The girls have also joined the Girl Scouts and are having lots of fun. This year we got the “opportunity” to sell Girl Scout Candy, a program that we believe is run by the Girl Scouts Sales Nazi. We were informed that the girls had to sell 168 boxes of candy . . . each. We were told this through a letter from the Girl Scouts that said, “You vill sell da candy or ve have vays of making things very unpleasant for you.”

Thus, we spent one weekend in front of the Safeway with our little cookie-pushers in training. Soon we realized that having look-alike twins that caught shoppers’ attention was quite an advantage. Shoppers would slow down to look long enough for Julia to trip them and for Christina to take their wallets. Ok, they didn’t really do this. Actually they just stood there looking very cute in their identical uniforms and pleaded with people to part with a few pennies. (It was like taking candy from a baby. No pun intended.) I believe we set a sales record.

Other things we did this year, included swim lessons for Julia and Christina and camping in Tahoe where the girls took their bug catchers and brought home 227 different bugs, many of which are still living in our house,

This year, the girls also started first grade at a new school. In this school, each student has their own computer and the kids are actually learning to use PowerPoint. (Yes, Microsoft Power Point. We couldn’t believe it either.) This sounds wonderful until, one day when you are at work, and you realize that you will soon be replaced by a 6-year old who will work for free as long as they get a juice box and a half hour for recess. In this school, they also assign each child a new job every week, so they can learn responsibility. There are jobs like Chairperson, Reading Specialist and Meteorologist. We thought this was a good idea, but we became a bit skeptical when we found out that Christina’s new job was “Substitute Paper Shredder.” Our skepticism for this job was soon replaced with concern however, when last week Christina was offered a $100K a year job by Dick Cheney.

Another highlight in our year was when Glenn’s 21-year old daughter, Amanda, and her boyfriend Sean, came for a visit. We thought Sean was a nice guy and the subsequent background check, lie-detector test and urine sample seem to agree. Amanda just finished classes at ASU and will be starting her student teaching next year where she’ll be teaching math to kids who will eventually become Engineers, Physicists and Guitar Hero experts.

Aileen had a great year at work and was the recipient of The Chairman’s Circle Award for Leadership by Example. Aileen is very proud of this as she believes she has taken “sucking up” to a new art form.

We look forward to a wonderful 2008 and we wish you all the love & happiness (sans injuries) that have blessed us.

Warm Wishes,
Glenn, Aileen, Julia and Christina

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Copyright 2004 – 2008, Glenn G. Millar

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