Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sometimes tips really work

There are tips and tricks we learn about on the Internet, and whether they’re called “hints” or “life hacks” or whatever, they may or may not be believable. Sometimes we try the tip, other times we don’t, but sometimes those tips really work. This is one of those times.

Earlier this month, Nigel and I had lunch in a café, and I ordered a coffee, as I always do, and it was a little bitter. So, I added a TINY bit of salt and the bitterness was gone.

I heard about that on the BBC Two series, “The Secrets of Your Food”, which was broadcast here recently on TV 1. The episode was about humans’ taste ability. Co-presenter Michael Mosley was talking about how chemicals interact to form or alter what we taste, in this case talking about coffee, and he suggested adding a bit of salt if you get a bitter cup of coffee. That day earlier this month was my first chance to try it out.

I was sceptical it would work, even though I had no reason to doubt the chemistry at work here, so I wasn’t expecting much. But it was kind of amazing how well it worked, and without making the coffee taste salty (it was only a very little salt I added).

I may be the only coffee drinker who didn’t already know this, but I decied I’d use it from now on. Even the best barista sometimes makes a bitter cup of coffee, after all, but I’d proven that there was a way to make sure that won’t be an issue for me in the future.

Today I had a chance to verify my evidence. I’d gone to Waiuku for some routine blood tests, just as I did exactly one year ago today. And, just like that day, I went to the café in the same building for—literally—break-fast (they were my annual fasting blood tests). I had a MASSIVE cup of coffee (pictured above, with cutlery beside it to try and provide a point of reference). The coffee was slightly bitter—not badly so, but enough that I noticed it. So, I added the teeny, tiniest bit of salt and, yet again, the bitterness was gone.

This was only my second trip to Waiuku, and it didn’t impress me much a year ago. In fact, the town didn’t impress me any more today, however, I may have judged the vampires’ facility and the nearby New World supermarket a little too harshly: Both were better than I thought at the time.

My earlier misjudgement of the New World was because we’d only moved from our old house not yet a month earlier, and I was still used to the New World I went to there, and that one is a much nicer store. A year later, I no longer have that same frame of reference/point of comparison. I liked the Waiuku store much better than I did last year. Even so, I can’t imagine making a trip there to go to that store: There’s literally nothing else in Waiuku (apart from the vampires) to draw me there. Same time next year?

The vampires in Waiuku, however, went up in my esteem. I’d gone to Pukekohe and found their vampires’ facility was small, cramped, and the waiting room was crammed with people, apparently due to understaffing. I quickly calculated that the waiting time would be about an hour, and I was late leaving home, so I was so hungry that I was in pain. I left with all my blood.

The vampires have three locations within a 25-30 minute drive of our house, and I’ve now been to all of them. I wouldn’t choose to go to Pukekohe again, so it’s ranked last, despite being my favourite of the three towns. In second place is Waiuku, which was reasonably fast and not crowded. In first place is Takanini, which is bigger, has good parking, and plenty of shops nearby that I might want to visit. My all time favourite was the tiny location in Beach Haven on the North Shore, but that’s more than an hour’s drive away (more than that most days).

So, Waiuku wasn’t exactly a draw for me, but the vampires, breakfast, and New World were all good. But I was most pleased about verifying that the salt in coffee thing really does work, and my earlier success wasn’t a fluke.

Sometimes those tips really work.


rogerogreen said...

I happen to HATE "hacks" as a term in this context. Hackers have a very different meaning to me.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

I'm not keen on the term, either, mainly because to me it suggests looking for a quick fix to a complex thing. In fact, most of the things called "hacks" are what would better be called "tips" or "suggestions" because that's really all they are: Ways to do things better or more easily, or to do a thing we didn't know how to do (like reduce bitterness in coffee, or maybe howot pick what to focus on using an iPhone camera, something I saw referred to as a "hack"). To me, a real "life hack" would involve some sort of reset button to fix health problems and the like. A hack for a device sounds like something you do to make it do something it wasn't intended to do, like pushing certain keys on your phone turns it into a laser gun (ah, if only…),