Monday, August 31, 2009

- Favorite Things: Alfi

I had dinner last night with friends & discovered there were avid tea drinkers among them, so I made them a pot of tea and expounded on my love for my Alfi. That made me realize I should share my delight with other potentially like-minded souls!

First, let me position my tea drinking habit: I am a tea philistine. I like black tea, fairly dark, with a lot of milk and sugar. My needs and requirement are simple and unrefined. I just like the taste. I do not worry about whether the water is boiling, just under, or whatever temperature releases (or does not release) unattractive tannins. Whatever! For me the issue is simply: does the water turn dark enough and if I put a lot of milk in it, does it stay hot enough (but not too hot) to sip and enjoy immediately?

Like a baby gosling, I am imprinted on Twining's Earl Grey blend as my tea of choice, but I've been willing to branch out--Bigelow's English Teatime, Twining's Irish Breakfast & have even liked some loose teas: Red Blossom's Keemun and their Hunan Black are in my cupboard

So why do I think this Alfi is great? Well, in general, I make myself a pot in the morning & then drink it throughout the day. I used to have various tea cosies to fit various tea pots to try to keep it warm, etc. but by the third cup, I needed a microwave to warm it up. Yes, I have done it and lived to tell the tale. If you microwave with the milk in, you don't have to do it as long & usually it tastes OK to me.

But this Alfi has an internal glass thermos with a sealed lid that opens and pours with a finger press. It keeps that pot of tea (without a stained tea cosy) beautifully hot and drinkable for a very long time. Even if you're a more refined tea drinker (or even a coffee drinker who may not care for having the coffee pot sit on the heater for hours) I think you'll find the Alfi a highly useful and lovely addition to your life.

I still use my tea pots for loose tea, but the Alfi is my pot of choice for tea bags. I only use one tea bag per pot and get about three mugs of tea per pot. And it's very cute! Once I realized how wonderful the Alfi was, I ordered 10 more to be sure I had one in every house I spent time in (that is I gave them as Christmas presents to all close family and friends...).

My handy plug-in Capresso water boiler (pictured on the right) was used it in my office, but I've migrated one use at home as well, so I never have to worry about forgetting water on the stove. In my office, an Alfi, a water boiler, a small refrigerator for milk, a supply of sugar, spoon and mug and I never needed to go to the kitchen.

Here is one of my Alfis at home. It's sitting on a tile my husband bought me when he went to the Taj Mahal. Nothing's too good for my Alfi....


I am not (alas) getting any kickbacks from Alfi on this. The information shared is solely to let you know about what I think is a great product that may meet your needs.

Drink up!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Audio-visual Resources Expand Understanding of Google Book Search Settlement

Much has been written about the Google Book Search Settlement. For those who want a better understanding of the Settlement but are a bit print-weary, audio-visual resources have become available in recent weeks that can clarify and expand that understanding.

For a general overview of Google Books and the Settlement on YouTube click here .

For a better understanding of the role of the Settlement in leveling the educational playing field for minority students and students with disabilities click here

For a discussion of what the Settlement means for publishers click here. There's information on a webinar below too.

I have to note that I do get irritated at those that trumpet "all content should be free." Hey, I'm sure we'd all like everything to be free! But if someone started announcing that all lawyers should work for free, or all milk should be free, we'd see the absurdity of that statement! Why can't they acknowledge the same value for Intellectual Property (IP) or the written material many sweat blood to create.

Not only do some feel their work has actual value, but they need to make a living at their work--and writing is work indeed. They also believe the creator or copyright holder ought to have some control over the material.

If you haven't guessed by now, I want this settlement to go through in order to ensure authors and publishers are offered some protection and to help ensure copyright is respected. As I said in a previous post, while the settlement is not perfect, it's an important first step. It literally took years, and involved a group of very smart, committed representatives for authors, publishers and a global search engine. I don't see anyone raising their hand to do better.

Without the settlement, we remain in a lawless frontier, and the implications would be devastating for copyright in the digital arena. There are a lot of people who can benefit from a state of anarchy, but it's time for content creators and those that value content to draw a line in the sand.

As noted previously, if you'd like to learn more about the settlement, you can also check out the information on the Author's Guild and the Association of American Publisher's websites.

But there's also a recent Webinar hosted by Publisher's Weekly you can access. Go to, click on "Tools" to the far right of the top navibar, then Webcasts and register for the webcast:
Google Library Project Settlement: What It Means for Publishers (or just click on the link!).

You will be able to access the webcast archive for one year following the initial webcast.

Description of the Webinar:

In a webinar first, the leaders involved with the crafting of the Google Library Project Settlement will share with the publishing industry the benefits of the agreement for publishers and authors. If approved by the Court in October, the agreement will create one of the most far-reaching intellectual, cultural, and commercial platforms for access to digital books for the reading public, while granting publishers unprecedented opportunities and protections. Presented in collaboration with Google, The Association of American Publishers, and Publishers Weekly, the web session is a must-attend event.

Richard Sarnoff, Co-Chair, Bertelsmann, Inc., AAP Board of Directors
John Sargent, Chief Executive Officer, Macmillan, AAP Board of Directors
Jan Constantine, General Counsel, Author's Guild
James Gleick, Author
Michael Healy, Executive Director Designate, Book Rights Registry

Jim Milliot, News Director, Publishers Weekly

Thanks for listening! I think it's important.