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Archive for August 1, 2020

The universe doesn’t want me to have tea, it seems

I’m having the hardest time restocking on tea bags lately. Last time I ordered groceries online, the store was out of the black tea bags I ordered, and instead of letting me search through available options for a substitute, their software picked a substitute arbitrarily and required me to either accept or reject it. The substitute they offered was a box of “iced tea blend” bags from the same maker, and I figured, okay, one tea bag is much like another aside from taste, so I’ll try it.

Turns out, however, that iced tea bags are really big and meant to make one quart per bag, impossible to use to make a single cup (unless it’s really strong, I guess). I needed a pitcher to make it in, and I only have one pitcher, which I use for orange juice so it isn’t available. So I didn’t have any way to make the tea. So I decided, what the hey, last time I needed stuff I couldn’t get from the store, I just bought it on Amazon. So I went to Amazon and bought a big box of tea bags, and while I was at it, I bought a pitcher so I could make the iced tea after all.

But I didn’t count on the US Postal Service becoming a victim of all the political awfulness going on and being actively sabotaged and delayed by the administration lackey currently in charge of it. My big box of tea bags got lost in the mail and Amazon wrote it off, giving me a refund, though they said it’s still conceivable it might show up someday. And my pitcher was supposed to arrive by yesterday, but Amazon now says it’s “Delayed, not yet shipped.”

Anyway, sometime last week, I finished a bottle of apple juice and realized that once I used up the current batch of orange juice, I could make iced tea in the empty pitcher, then use a funnel to pour it into the (washed) juice bottle, the only suitable-sized beverage container I have that isn’t in use. So I set out to do just that… but reading the instructions on the iced tea bags reminded me that I’d have to sweeten the tea. The only sweetener I keep in the apartment is honey, and that only works in hot tea. So I had to abandon that plan.

So, okay. I counted my tea bags again and figured that if I kept my intake to 2, at most 3 cups a day, I could stretch it out until my next grocery trip. So I put tea bags on my grocery shopping list, and while I was at it, I ordered a box of sweetener packets, so I could make the iced tea in my impending pitcher once all the ingredients came together (this was before I was informed of the pitcher’s delay).

To digress a bit for setup: I woke up yesterday morning to find the power was out. Not a nice thing to wake up to. All I could do was go back to bed, and the power came back on a bit over an hour later. Okay, good, but I didn’t know how long the power had been out. Would I have to throw stuff out from the fridge? I didn’t think it had been that long, since with my ceiling fan off, I would’ve been hotter under the sheets if it had been a long time. But I wasn’t sure. So I looked for outage info on the power company’s website, but they only seemed to list current outages, not resolved ones. I finally went to their Facebook page and messaged them, and they told me the outage had started no more than two and a half hours before the power returned. Which meant my food in the fridge should be okay, since it was under the recommended four hours and I never opened the door in that time. Though I only found this out after I’d had a breakfast without milk (frozen waffles and vegetarian sausage) to be on the safe side. Later in the day, I had other perishables from the fridge and they were fine.

So this morning, I confidently poured a bowl of cereal and dried fruit and took out the milk. With an excess of caution, I took a whiff… and it smelled badly spoiled! I guess it had been open longer than the other items, closer to the brink of spoilage already. Still, there was a fair amount I had to pour out, and I had to make do with coffee creamer diluted with water on my cereal — not great, but necessary because of the dried banana chips. (The cereal itself, a store-brand Cheerios equivalent, is actually quite palatable without milk. But dried banana chips are really hard and crunchy.) Anyway, this moved up my planned grocery trip to today, so yay, I’d finally get my tea bags.

And my car wouldn’t start.

Yup, once again, letting it sit idle for a couple of weeks (just 12 days, actually, which doesn’t seem like it should be enough) drained the battery. But this time, I had that portable storage battery/jumpstarter I bought back in June. (Whose built-in emergency flashlight was useful to me the previous morning when the power was out.) I went back up to my apartment and grabbed it, and after a few false starts figuring out how to hook it up properly and turn on all the switches, I got my car to start. Yay! I drove a circuitous route to the store to give the car battery time to recharge, and then I picked up my order, leaving the engine running while I waited just in case. And came home and unpacked my groceries.

Only to find the tea wasn’t there.

I was charged for it, it was on my receipt, but it wasn’t in any of the bags. I went out in the rain to double-check the trunk — no tea. (Which I guess makes it a runk.) Nor had I absently placed it in the wrong cabinet, nor was it on the ground anywhere between my car and my apartment. The grocery clerk (whose nose was sticking out of her mask) probably missed it while loading the trunk. Or the runk.

The one thing, other than milk, that it was most important to me to get on my trip today — and it’s the one thing that was missing. And it’s the same thing I’ve been trying to get unsuccessfully for nearly two weeks now! What the hell, universe?

I let them know through their website that the tea had been omitted and asked for a refund, or a delivery if possible. But as things stand, I’m down to my last half-dozen teabags, which I typically use twice each to stretch them out.

At least I have the sweetener now, so I finally have the option to make iced tea and keep it in the empty juice bottle (which I washed already), or in my pitcher when and if it arrives. And I suppose if I wanted hot tea, I could just heat up some iced tea in the microwave or something — couldn’t I? (Advice welcome.)

Plus I restocked on Folger’s Coffee Singles, which are like tea bags, but bigger and with coffee. I don’t have a coffee maker and these are better than instant; indeed, I’ve read that the flavor is considered pretty good compared to ground coffee. I’ve been avoiding coffee for a while, only having tea in the morning, since I thought the higher caffeine levels (or maybe the sugar in the creamer, or both) might be causing me anxiety. So I let my coffee bags run out and only had some instant (which I keep on hand because I like to add a bit of it to hot chocolate for flavor). But a day or two ago, I was sleep-deprived and decided to have a cup of instant coffee at midmorning. And it actually made me feel better, more alert rather than irritable. So I figured I should get more coffee as an alternative to tea, though I’d still prefer not to have more than one cup per day.

Still… I want my dang tea bags. This is getting ridiculous.

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Star Trek eBook deals this month include A CHOICE OF FUTURES

Every month, Simon & Schuster offers an assortment of Star Trek novels in e-book format for $0.99 apiece. Here’s this month’s set:

https://www.simonandschuster.com/c/ebookpromoaugust2020

Since August 12 is Federation Day according to the novels, the deals include three books with “Federation” in the title: Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens’s classic Original Series/Next Generation crossover novel Federation (an alternative take on Zefram Cochrane and World War III predating First Contact), Keith R.A. DeCandido’s equally classic Articles of the Federation (a year in the life of Federation President Nan Bacco), and my own Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures, the first installment in my ROTF series.

Since August 19 is Jonathan Frakes’s birthday, there are also three Will Riker-centric novels available: the TNG novels A Rock and a Hard Place by Peter David (set during the series) and Takedown by John Jackson Miller (set in the post-Nemesis novel continuity with Riker as an admiral), and the first Titan novel, Taking Wing by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels.

And since… well, I don’t know if there’s a thematic reason, but they’re also offering three Star Trek: Voyager novels, including two of the numbered novels released during the series, The Garden by Melissa Scott and Chrysalis by David Niall Wilson (now the editor and publisher of my Hub collections), and Full Circle, the beginning of the acclaimed post-finale series by my friend Kirsten Beyer, who’s now on the writer-producer teams of Star Trek: Discovery and Picard.