Coffee Share 220527 :: Personal Lighting & Tea

Shared on Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share.

Greetings all.

gw card shot 2 croppedThis has been a much quieter week as compared to the previous. I’ve had time to catch up, regroup, refresh and, best of all, think.

This is the end of my company’s fiscal year and with that comes a responsibility for producing a summary of how I spent the company’s money for my favorite project, a quarterly security patch analysis – that (trust me on this) unless you work in software maintenance – you really don’t want to know the details of. The reason I even mention it is that this year, the writing of it has been particularly enjoyable due in part to something I mentioned in a previous coffee share.

If you are a writer, you need to start using some kind of “Read Aloud” tool. It is amazing how much polish has come into my scribbling for so little effort.   One caveat; I think it works best for writers who are writing only in their native language. I doubt it would be as effective if you were writing in a second or more language as it depends on what the strings of words ‘sound like’.

I’m one of those writers who could not parse the intricate rules of English very deeply, but my inner ear is well tuned to the sound of correct English usage. Any: a/an, singular/plural, past/present tense and similar errors just jump out despite the fact that I just wrote them – which normally blinds me when trying to edit my own writing. 

A mechanical reader, I think would be best for this task as the reader has no idea of what you’re trying to say. It just turns whatever you actually wrote into audible words, that for your native language just sound right or wrong.

Okay – enough on that.

I have a life hack I want to share today because: A) The lizards have been deadly dull this week and B) There’s a more than decent chance you’re sick of hearing about them anyway and furthermore C) This is a pretty cool and easy hack that I used virtually every day.

So here’s the setup. You awaken and get yourself ready to start your day then wander out to the living area of your home (or tent – because that is where this idea was birthed). If you’re anything like me, what you don’t need or want is a bright light to blow a hole in the back of your eyeballs because, just coming from a darkened room after a good night’s sleep, your eye lenses are wide open, suitable to low light conditions. But just a little light, well focused just on what you need/want to see is all you really would welcome.

dilated eyeThis is the solution to this problem.

I start every day by getting up early enough to read some, while letting the sun rise at its own speed, so my lenses are pried open very slowly.  But, to read, obviously I need some light and a simple camping head light is almost perfect. I wear glasses and if worn on my forehead as these things are designed to be used, causes a ton of unpleasant stray light to trip over the frames and lenses of my glasses and cause glare that makes the situation worse. 

So, one day I had an inspiration. What if I just moved the light off of my forehead and just hung it around my neck, pointing down at what I’m trying to read? This worked amazingly well – so yes – I do this every day.  I’ve been known to prowl around the kitchen first thing in the morning like this instead of turning on the full spectrum lights of our kitchen, while brewing my tea.

head light

I found that my head light worked best if I turned it upside down and adjusted the direction up two clicks. I also use a light that has 2 settings, dim and eye-blasting bright so I can comfortably light my book only rather than the whole room.

That’s it.  It’s so simple and I honestly do use this trick every day.  It also works great for reading in your camping tent or similar settings.

Next up, I’ve made a tea discovery I like so much, I wanted to share it with you.

Tea is tea and for many of us, it delivers a desired reduced caffeine jolt with a strong enough taste that (with some acclimation) can be the answer for those who drink too much coffee (and you know if this is you) but you may not have tried enough teas to find one that works for you.

My discovery is yet another option that works really well.

Some teas are themselves too strong and need to be tweaked somehow.  Normal options are:

  1. less tea in more water to dilute the tea. This is the option favored by my wife.
  2. using less-than boiling water to pull out less tea flavor from whatever tea you’re using.
  3. steeping the tea for less time
  4. switch to green tea – which is okay, but with much less caffeine, it also has a lot less flavor.

All these are great to experiment with, but I really didn’t find a variation that really matched what I was looking for when I wanted full-bodied taste with less caffeine than normal full-bodied tea leaves.

So, here’s what I tried this week and loved the result.

  1. I use loose leaf tea and put a quarter to half of a rich black tea in my pot infuser and
  2. steep with just enough boiling water to cover the tea for about 2 minutes. So there is not enough water in the pot yet. That will be added shortly. Black tea normally steeps for 5 minutes, so it’s really not done when I . . . ,
  3. lift out the infuser and add enough green tea leaves to complete the amount needed for a full pot of tea.
  4. I use an electric pot for boiling my water so I leave the top off the boiling water after getting the black tea started.
  5. Green tea normally steeps for only 3 minutes at a lower temperature, and in my case I need to add one ice cube to the boiling pot to get the water down to the suggested temperature for my green tea.
  6. I return the, now full, infuser with both teas added back into the pot and pour in the less-than boiling water for the remaining 3 of 5 minutes.
  7. The result is a slightly diluted black tea taste with the richness of taste and less caffeine from the green tea.  This could easily become my favorite blend.  It is so good, that you really should give it a try. It would likely work for tea bags as well, but read the box and see what yours recommends for temperature and steeping time.

It is more work, but is so worth the effort.

Finally, what did I do about writing this week?  I was hoping to get my head back into at least one of my in-flight longer projects, but the week was not that quiet and my brain just wasn’t there but I did both my short story projects so here they are.

Click here to read: 99 words about leaving a bad relationship

Click here to read: 3 minutes about two very odd, but promising, children


That’s my update for the week. Thanks for stopping by.  Hopefully, the rest of the day will be quiet and I’ll be looping back at least twice over the weekend to visit your literary venue.



GW bio card 4

28 thoughts on “Coffee Share 220527 :: Personal Lighting & Tea

  1. As someone who likes their, what I call ‘ordinary black tea’ (think English breakfast tea style) weak as I don’t take milk (an abomination in tea in my very humble opinion…), I have my tea bag in the mug, pour on the boiling water and more or less remove the bag. With loose leaf teas I either use a ball infuser for one or my tea pot. I have lots of teas…green, red, black, herbal…always one for the mood I am in!

    Can the lizards ever be boring? I guess not too much activity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea – I get this. I have too many tins of tea going and should just stop buying them for a while, but there’s so many good looking variations to try.
      Yes – Yes – milk belongs in coffee, cereal and milkshakes, not in tea. . . sniff!
      Well, I don’t think the lizards are ever boring, but then my family doesn’t think I’m completely sane about this issue.
      Thanks for stopping by T&K.


    1. I had to laugh Janis. I too have been caught talking to our gang, most often Trunc, who is still pretty gutsy around me where all the others flee quickly if I get too close.


  2. Definitely not tired of the lizard updates! I love those!

    The headlamp idea is clever. I actually don’t mind bright light in the morning, but my husband hates it, so I’ll pass the tip on to him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay, more lizard tales.
      Got it.
      If he’s a practical kind of guy who prefers a slow start on bright mornings, then he’ll love it.
      Seriously- it’s everyday for me and sometimes I forget about it and don’t take it off until I see myself in the bathroom mirror at close to noon and feel foolish for wearing it fir so long into the day.


  3. Morning Gary, I have to say that I personally love the read aloud feature for editing because it has helped me edit. It really catches those errors that, mechanical readers (like you and I), gloss by when we read. Interestingly, I attended a meeting presented by a speech specialist and was surprised by a few of the things she shared. My youngest son missed a chunk of grade one when COVID shut the world down in 2020 and is a struggling reader; that’s why I was at this particular presentation. She said get our struggling readers to listen to audiobooks and I was sitting there, skeptic that I am, thinking, yeah right that will help. She went on to explain that people who like to read the story off the page are an anomaly. People who prefer to listen to a story (audiobooks…) are actually the norm. She explained how it all dates back to oral storytelling and oral learning… It made sense and she was interesting.

    Thanks for the virtual coffee, Gary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Shari.
      Okay, half way through your note, I was getting ready to jump to the defense of the printed page – but your speaker had a good point. The traditional audio story-telling format is how history, news, social laws and governance was done in semi-literate communities. All that speaks to what your speaker was saying.
      That and I loved reading to my kids before they could on their own. I have some great memories of all three of them piled on one of their beds with me in the midst somewhere cracking some of the great stories I grew up on and even stories we all “discovered” together. I can’t imagine life without both reading and reading to my kids.
      As I’ve used the MS Read Aloud feature, I’ve caught myself thinking I could enjoy this enough to let it read books to me, even with that mechanical tone that screws up some words that would be obvious to a warm bodied reader.
      Great point.
      And BTW: There’s always a hot cup of virtual coffee here with your name on it.


    1. Hi RMC,
      Good of you to stop by and give my article a read. I hope you find a version of this tea technique that makes it worth the effort. I used a cherry green tea that is very mild with a dark orange pekoe black tea and loved the result. It would taste different with Darjeeling or Earl Gray and I look forward to trying both of these.
      As to work, these days I’m less of a hard worker than I once was. I’m past retirement age and am just trying to finish strong with my favorite project and do a warm hand-off to my partner who is much younger and full on energy.
      Thanks for giving my article a read.
      I hope it leads to tasty discovery.


    1. Hi Pam,
      Yea, my light idea has several attrutes I love like how it softens the blow of early mornings, how cheap and easy it is to acquire and use. I can easily imagine you in a comfy chair with a quilt, good book, a big mug of tea, sitting the quiet pre dawn darkness reading by one of these lights and waking up slow and peacefully.
      📚 ☕️
      My editing is so much easier now that I use that reader. It directly works on one of my weaknesses.
      Thanks for stopping by.


  4. I’ve played around with different blends of tea and found a few that work, but 99% of the time I would rather go for the strongest black tea available. I guess that is the coffee drinker in me coming out.
    Glad you got your quarterly patch project done in such a satisfactory way. My version of Word is the last one to not have the read out loud feature. Posts for the blog I just write and post unedited, even when I did serialized novels, but for publishing I read out loud before I send it to people doing copy editing for me and then read it out loud when I get it back. I am always surprised by how many mistakes they miss that I pick up reading out loud.
    Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love how passionate you are about tea! We’ve been drinking more tea during the spring, and have explored a new tea shop in town. It’s a Scandinavian tea shop with lots of different flavoured tea blends. I’ve found that a mix of black and green tea creates a nice balance. For this kind of tea I don’t want it too strong, but I prefer traditional Irish tea quite strong.
    Your idea of having the light around your neck is a good one. I used to have a special book light that you put on your book, but the last one I had was faulty and now I’ve given up and buy books to my phone, and read on that if I’m in bed. For ”real” books I read them when there’s enough natural light.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lots going on. I use a Read Aloud as well. Very helpful. Good idea on the light set up. I still consider tea drinkable iced or when sick. I hope the lizards are OK. Have a fubtastic week.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I wish I liked tea even a little. So many varieties to try and the health benefits are amazing. There is just something in the after taste I can’t stand. I can drink chai, but is there really “tea” in that? For me it is mostly sugar, spices and milk.

    I liked your hack. It is terrible to have the eyeballs bombarded first thing. I’m routinely up before sunrise and fumble about in the dark. I prefer the dark. Then when the sunrises, it gently lights the house through the windows. Usually by then, I have had two cups of coffee to help open those lenses!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi SadiRose,
      Yep, it sounds like you and tea are going to get along – wait. Have you tried Oolong?
      It’s a really mild black tea which might not have that after taste.

      Your description of the taste of tea sounds a lot like my old view of coffee, which I thought was nasty. Somewhere along the time line my taste just changed.

      I love misusing my little headlight and only wish I’d realized this option a long time ago


  8. I never tire of the lizards. That tip is a great idea! I wish I liked tea more. I’ll tolerate it, but it’s never a favorite choice, but maybe that’s because I haven’t really had “good” tea. Good stories…I know so many who can relate to that first one. The second one was interesting…kind of grossed me out a little…


    1. Hi Kirstin, I felt the same way about coffee for most of my life. Everyone told me I just had to “develop a taste for it,” but not long after that started, I started answering back, “no – the stuff just tastes bad.” Which didn’t resolve anything other than driving away some coffee-loving friends. When my oldest son started drinking coffee and loved it, I decided to give it another chance, because we always insisted that our kids be willing to try anything we prepared for them and only after tasting it, could they claim to no like it and sometimes their tastes would mature so they might have to try something again.
      To preempt him throwing that back in my face, I gave coffee another try and, hmm, that’s not as bad as I recall, so I wonder if . . .
      Which turned into a few cups a week relationship with the stuff that used to taste so bad.
      Thanks for reading my stories. You are always so kind to do so. And yea, I knew that second one was a bit odd for me, but I thought the imagery was fun and even funny. Can’t you just imagine what the mom was thinking about the time they mentioned the fish to her. Come on, that was funny. . .
      My daughter wants to be a doctor and often brings up topics that umm, I could have done without but really, REALLY gross out one of her brothers.
      She may have influenced this story a tad.
      Thanks for spending some time with my stories. 😉


  9. Hi Gary, Your tea sounds very complicated to make. If I drink tea, it’s cinnamon apple usually, which is decaf, I think. Normally I gorge on the coffee my husband brews each morning, caramel truffle. Yum! You have some interesting hacks here, and I’ll come back to read your stories when I’m not trying to finish Story Chat Summary at 4:30 in the morning. I’ve been working on it an hour already visiting all the commenters. I think I”m half done! I love your lizards. We have tons of them here that I could share, but none with the personalities that yours have. 🙂


    1. Hi Marsha,
      Nah – my normal tea is just pouring boiling water over the tea leaves. Sometimes the varieties I stock don’t quite sound like what I want so then I do tinker some and have so far liked the results – so I share it because there were days that I just put up with something to help me wake up. This hack just gives me more options when I just want to wake up with a well controlled caffeine jolt.
      I’ve not yet been back to revisit this months story chat. My site remodel and day job have kept me busy.
      Thanks for stopping by for a virtual cup – 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Gary, it’s always a pleasure to read your posts. I especially love your coffee shares because I get to know the Gary. I just published the summary. This was an interesting month of comments. I’d be interested in your opinion on the three questions I’m asking the readers of the summary. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ll take a look during my next break. I did verify the link back to the chat summary.
        I noticed that my name was missing from the first list of contributors but you picked up my comments below.
        I love going back to review the summaries.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I know I had your link on the attendance part. I have cut back to only linking once even though you comment more than once or I break your comment into sections where they fit the narrative. I would hope I’d never miss you. I’ll check when I get back to my computer,

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s