Due South Coffee Roasters

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“No Outlet.”

That was the first sign that caught our eye as we turned onto the road that leads to Due South Coffee Roasters in Taylors, SC.  The second thing we noticed was a massive, abandoned edifice that hadn’t seen meaningful activity since the Taylors Southern Bleachery shuttered its operations in 1965.

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It always an interesting experience to second guess your GPS as you make your way to a new coffee shop you’ve heard about.  But the experience quickly proved worth the excursion.  After parking in front of weathered cargo bay doors, we saw Due South’s sign and quietly apologized to Google Maps.  We opened the shop’s door, stepped inside, and instantly knew the buzz around this shop wasn’t just from the caffeine.

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Aged mill walls find themselves repurposed as an art gallery for the work of local artists.  Rustic barn doors serve as tables.  A faded display of old mill tools reminds you that this space could tell a thousand stories.

The drink menu is designed with the purist in mind.  But the focus on quality and simplicity doesn’t mean the good folks at Due South lack a sense of adventure.  In addition to offering delicious coffee from all over the globe (the Brazilian Rose Diamond is our current favorite), the baristas regularly employ a little whimsy and imagination that results in a signature drink each month.  Customers with an adventurous palette are treated to everything from toasted vanilla bourbon marshmallow atop a rich mocha to a homemade cherry cola crafted from coffee cherries.

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But make no mistake, at Due South, coffee is king.  When you decide to visit (and we highly recommend you do), you’ll see this for yourself.  This coffee shop that started as an aside for an upstart local roastery has quickly become a destination location in the unlikeliest of places.

You won’t wander by.

You won’t pass it by mistake.

You may not be sure you’re in the right place when you actually get there.

But when you do make it to Due South Coffee in Taylors, SC, the “No Outlet” sign won’t matter.  You won’t question how to get out.  You’ll wonder why you’d ever leave.

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You can find Due South Coffee Roasters at any of the following:

Twitter: @duesouthcoffee

Instagram: @duesouthcoffee

Facebook: DueSouthCoffee

In Person:  250 Mill St #4C,  Taylors,  SC  29687

Quote of the Day: The Art of Living

Found this quote on another blog, and thought it was worth re-posting:

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. he simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”

– Francois Auguste Rene Chateaubriand

Legs, Back, and Bitterness

Day 5: Legs & Back 

Hello, arch nemesis old friend.   It’s mildly depressing  fantastic to see you again, Legs & Back.  Looks like we’ll be working together today.  Oh, Crud! Great!

 In the past, when it comes to workout routines, I’ve always managed to avoid leg workouts.  It’s not because I don’t think they’re important.  It’s not because I don’t realize that the legs house the largest muscles in the body, thereby providing the best calorie burn during and post-workout.  The simple fact is that I don’t like leg workouts.  They’re hard and they bore me.  But since I’ve decided to chronicle this journey for you, my readers, I owe it to you to complete each one of the workouts and write about it.  So this morning, I did leg exercises due to that sense of responsibility.  I apologize for the names I called you.

One thing that this program is showing me is that I tend to have many defense mechanisms for helping myself deal with the fact that I’m lousy at the exercises.  For example, the first exercise this morning was a “One-Leg-Balance-Lunges”.  This involves resting the top of one foot on a chair placed behind you, stepping forward with the other foot, and performing a lunge with your foot remaining on the chair.  This move does not lend itself well to being performed when still bleary-eyed from waking up earlier than usual.  Suffice to say, I spent more time trying to regain my balance than actually lunging.  All of this struggling gnaws at my sports-ego more than I ever imagined.  So how do I handle this?

I make fun of Tony, of course.  During the warm-ups, he introduces us to the three participants in the video, and he describes one of them as possessing “super-sonic-fitness!”  As I’m careening from side to side during the balance lunges, I’m delivering this monologue.  Out loud.

                “Supersonic fitness, huh?  So these people are in better shape than the speed of sound? That IS impressive!  But is it possible?  I don’t think so. Tony, you’re gonna need to do better than that.  That’s like saying I have better eyesight than Archimedes Screw…or that I have the lung capacity of the Post Office.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  How am I supposed to focus my energy on maintaining proper form when I’m critiquing your descriptive word selection?!”

If my dedication and work ethic ever catch up with my rationalization and deflection skills, I will be a physical force to be reckoned with.  For now, I’m just a poorly balanced, bitter, argumentative person that doesn’t have the leg strength left to make it up to the 5th floor I work on–and I use the elevator.  But as I mentioned, I’m doing it all for you guys.

You’re welcome.

Talking Furniture

writing desk picThis post is the result of a writing prompt on Writersdigest.com.  Nothing profound.  Just a little something to keep the writing process fresh.

Writing Prompt:

You return home from work to find a Dear John letter on your kitchen table. Oddly enough, it’s from one of your favorite pieces of furniture. What does the letter say?

Dear Sir:

I’m sure that you’ll be surprised to read this, as I know your intentions have been good.  As a matter of fact, they’ve been so good for so long that I allowed myself to get lost in the promise of what could be.  Your hopes became my own.  I knew that together we could accomplish so much.  You spoke of your plans many times.

When I first came to your home, I heard you tell others how long you’d searched for me.  Just for me.  I had the “special something” that you hadn’t found in others.  When you showed me to my own space in your home, you made sure that everything around me was set perfectly.  You stood back to admire me, and you smiled.  It was a genuine smile born of contentment.

Maybe that was the problem.  Maybe you were content to simply find me.

I heard the rumblings from the others.  They said it wasn’t rare.  You did this kind of thing all the time.  I would get used to it and become resigned to my fate.  I didn’t want to resign myself to anything, I told them.  I had done that before.  It’s not a good feeling, and I believed your words enough to know that this time would be different.  I hate being wrong.

This letter hurts.  It hurts because I still believe that you can do everything you’ve planned.  Your ability has never been questioned.  The magic that cannot be given or taught is there.  The only obstacle standing in your way is you.

I’ve been here for you from the minute you showed me to your study.  The refuge you created for me is the stuff of legend.  The bookshelf filled with works of all the great masters.   The antique area rug giving the room a warmth that fosters creative inspiration.  The reading chair in the corner.  Your grandmother’s reading lamp.  I was the last piece: the most important, you said.  Our study, you called it.  This is where great writing was to take place.

Well, the writing never happened.  Too many things got in the way.  So it’s my turn.  I’m a writing desk.  My name is derived from the fact that I was fashioned to give authors a platform on which they can transfer thought to paper.  This never happened.

I love being a writing desk, but by definition, a writing desk that never assists in writing is simply a desk.  While you may be content to hide behind your untested potential, I am not content to be just a desk.  So I’m writing.

I am once again a Writing Desk, though not in the sense you intended.

You are missed,

The Writing Desk

Music, Mice, and Megalomania

chuck_e_cheese4OK, I’ll admit it.  I’m getting older.  In some circles I am even considered an actual “grown up”.  However, never let it be said that I have forgotten how to PAR-TAY!!

To quote the great Stanley Ipkiss from “The Mask“:

“P.A.R.T. Why?  Because I…..GOTTA!”

So, given my  youthfully impulsive propensity to gravitate towards any opportunity for outward expression of my inward merriment, last night I found myself at one of Greenville’s hottest party locations.

 As usual, I rolled up fashionably late–shortly after work.  As walked up to the door, I could already hear the music thumpin’ inside.  Upon entering, I could see that the flashing lights were giving the entire building an energy all its own.  Everywhere I looked I saw people having the time of their lives.  Laughter, singing, and the occasional squeal of delight were the soundtrack for the evening.  Tonight was gonna be off the hook. (yeah, that’s really a phrase)  I patiently waited in line as I inched closer to the velvet rope that separated me from my fellow partiers.  A familiar nod from the bouncer, the hand stamp giving me full access, and finally the lifting of the rope…and I was in.  Already parched from the long day at work, I made my way to order a drink.  It was at that point that I knew this was my lucky day, because that’s when my wife handed me a small slip of paper and said, “I’ve got a coupon here that will get the kids 50 free tokens with our order!”   Man, you gotta love Chuck E. Cheese!  Fo shizzle!

So yeah, this particular party was in celebration of my son’s 5th birthday.  And yes, we had some killer coupons for Chuck E. Cheese.  But in my defense, there WAS loud music and there WERE flashing lights.  Oh yeah, and a 6 foot tall animatronic, singing rat.  I’m also being completely honest about the laughter, singing, and squeals.  Of course they were all generated by people still too young to fully appreciate the irony found in any episode of Hannah Montana.  But I digress.

The aforementioned rat is the cause of my consternation.  Please understand, I have no problem with rodents functioning as entertainers.  Obviously, Mickey Mouse sets the standard, but I also give props to Jerry, DangerMouse, and Stuart Little for their work in the industry.  While Chuck E. Cheese is no Mickey, I don’t hold that up against him.  That would be like holding Barry Manilow at fault for not being Elvis.  It’s just not a fair comparison.  Chuck gives it his robotic all.  It’s just that I question his song choices.

Given that the average audience member at Chuck E. Cheese’s is probably still trying to master his or her ABC’s, I would have expected songs like “The Wheels on the Bus” or “Itsy Bitsy Spider”.  However, as I was walking back from getting refills on our drinks, I heard this gigantic cheeser singing, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears.  Really?  Everybody wants To Rule the World?  Of all songs in the English language, THIS was considered the best choice for today’s preschool listener?  This song is basically about the bloodthirsty drive for power and the wars that come as a result.  I have to wonder whether Tears for Fears ever thought their music would be used for background noise as children hyperventilate from excitement and parents struggle to maintain their sanity and dignity.  

In a music industry that is rife with legally binding contracts and copy write laws, it’s logical to think that there was a royalty deal struck for Chuck E. to belt out this particular song.  While I understand a band’s need to survive in these tough economic times, is it fair to dismiss any claims they’ve ever made about wanting to be taken seriously?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  To me, it all hinges on one question.

Did they hold out for lifetime, limitless tokens on every visit to Chuck E. Cheese?  If so, who can blame them?

But I have to wonder what’s next.  Barney’s tribute album to Tupac?  The Wiggles duet album with Eminem?  It’s a slippery slope to be sure.  

Maybe this was The Big Rat’s first move in changing how we think about children’s entertainment.  Maybe he wants to be credited with this accomplishment as a power move to become “The Big Cheese” among showbiz mice.  Maybe his song choice was a cryptic message of sorts.

Maybe I had too much dessert pizza.

Taking Care of Business

Life Rule #17:

If you’re too busy to hang up your phone while you pee…you’re TOO busy.

 

Yes.  Sadly, I stood next to someone today that prompted this reminder.   The earnestness this gentleman exhibited towards taking care of business while “taking care of business” was on one level admirable–on another quite disturbing. 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that some things are extremely important to discuss with others.  I also understand that mobile phones make it possible for us to conduct these discussions in almost any place imaginable.  It’s just that, in my research, I haven’t run across a phone that lists “Bodily Function Filter” (a much less common use of  the abbreviation”BFF”) on its Features list.  With this in mind, I’m not sure I can imagine a conversation that is important enough for the person on the other end to need to hear you talking over the musical stylings of your kidneys or lower intestines.  Or those of the other people sharing the bathroom with you.  You see, while it IS possible to control your own…ummm…well…volume, shall we say? …controlling that of the occupants of the stalls around you?  Not so easy.

Without going into detail, there have been numerous instances in a public restroom when the ambient sounds of the lavatory made me extremely thankful I wasn’t on a phone call.  It was at this point that I began to wonder exactly what kind of conversation would warrant taking this risk.

Medical emergency?  Absolutely.  

Phone interview? Negative.  

Call to your brother for entertainment purposes only?  Indeed.  

Checking your voicemail?  Sure.

Call to your wife to wish her a Happy Anniversary? For your sake, I hope not.

So after further consideration, I suppose that there ARE times when it’s acceptable to place a phone call from the bathroom.  But please realize, if you must make the call, please have excuses ready for the question of “What was THAT?!?” from the person on the other end. 

And no, claiming that you’re calling from a fog horn testing facility because the signal is strong is NOT a believable excuse. 

If that’s the best you can do, perhaps this is a good time to add text messages to your plan.

The Thrill of Victory

Know what I love most about my kids?wii-dads

The tax deductions.

I love that my kids teach me new things about me.  They don’t use the traditional Teacher-Student model.  Instead, they simply live their little lives and let me interact on occasion.  It is normally during these interactions that I find myself being taken to school, so to speak.  And tonight, class was certainly in session.

Eschewing the formal Halls of Academia, my “Professor” opted to conduct tonight’s lesson in the living room.  Using the Wii.  Using it well.  Too well.

Suffice to say, my son–my 4 year old son–did not lose every contest in which he had me as competition.  (If it seems that the previous sentence was written in such a way to obfuscate the fact that he beat me…that was my intent.  If you’re still wondering what “obfuscate” means…good.  Focus on finding that definition–not on the fact that I lost to my 4 year old.  As a matter of fact, just click HERE for the definition.)

Aaaaanyway, yes…he beat me. Once.  BUT, I must point out that I also trounced him soundly in several other contests.  It was during these victories that I learned how much I simply enjoy winning.  The level of the competition does not matter.  The chosen game?  Insignificant.  I simply like to win.

“What”, you ask, “is the lesson to be learned from all of this?”  I’m glad you asked.  The lesson is simple.

Life Lesson # 319:

Securing victory over a 4 year old does not carry with it much glory.  However, the negligible amount of  glory stemming from that victory will always–I stress, ALWAYS–beat the pants off of the humiliation felt after losing to that same 4 year old.  

(Side note to the guys:  If you think the contest is going to be close, it’s a good idea to make sure your wife is in another room.  If she witnesses your defeat, the level of humiliation grows exponentially.  For eternity.)

There you have it.  If you’re gonna play, you might as well win.  It will be a lesson you want to pass on to the same child you just crushed.  The wisdom will sink in long after your victory dance has ended.

I hope.

The Face of Smoking

 

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Somebody please help me understand. 

 

What is the purpose of taking up a hobby or activity?  Isn’t it usually done to bring some level of enjoyment to one’s life?  Generally speaking, if you spot someone engaging in an activity that they’ve begun voluntarily, you’ll notice a smile—or at least sense an overall satisfaction with said activity.  This brings me to my question of the day.

 

Why do people smoke?

 

 

I have the distinct coincidence of working with a large number of smokers.  No matter what time of day, if you walk out the side door of our office building you will encounter anywhere from 2 to 147 people huddled in small coveys of collective smoking.  The blanket of second-hand smoke has actually caused our concrete office building to develop a persistent cough. 

 

I’m not here to proselytize smokers into quitting.  I know they should.  They know they should.  We actually agree on that point.

 

My issue is one of perplexity.

 

Why do they do it in the first place?  I have yet to see a single smoker look happy while smoking.  While it’s true that every person has a unique genetic make-up that sets them apart from every other human being, it’s undeniable that the single act of smoking makes them all share an uncanny resemblance.

 

The squinted eyes.  The tightly pursed lips.  The rattling cough.  The shallow breathing patterns. The overall look of someone who is undergoing an appendectomy without the benefit of anesthesia. It just doesn’t appear to bring the least bit of enjoyment. 

 

So why would someone even want to start smoking?  I just don’t get it.

 

 I’m sure there are those that will argue that it’s due to the addictive quality of the nicotine.  While that explains why people CONTINUE to smoke, it does nothing to answer why someone would even want to START.  I would think that just looking at other smokers would turn people off to lighting up for the first time.  Apparently, I would be wrong.  Perhaps this is something I will never understand. 

 

As I read the above description of smokers’ appearances, I realized that it is the exact same list that would apply to my appearance if I were forced to attend a Scrapbooking Convention.  This is why I choose not to scrapbook.  Avoiding my own displeasure is reason enough to steer clear of those events.

 

I don’t need a public service announcement from the cast of Law & Order to convince me it’s not a good idea.