Heartfelt thanks, books, and gecko-inspired invention

I don’t know about you, but for us, this year went by in a flash. I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older, the years go by faster, too. I want to express my very heartfelt thanks to all of you who have supported us these past years — moral support, spreading the word to others, and buying and sharing our coffee. We particularly see this sharing at the holiday time, when we know that many of our customers are buying for others.

We are a small operation, small enough for me to know our customers or at least recognize their names. And it’s not uncommon for me to exchange little chatty emails with some of you. It’s gratifying to produce something directly from our land and to share it with known people with names and who live in various places. That’s one of the reasons we’re doing business the way we are, as opposed to selling the fruit to be sold further along, completely unknown to us. So, my sincere gratitude to you all.

The rest of this post will not be about drought or rain but will be miscellany galore.

It turns out that most of the books I read, I read during the night when I should be sleeping but can’t. It’s called sleep maintenance insomnia, when you can initially fall asleep, but you can’t stay asleep. Right now I’m reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker for the second time. Ha ha! He’s an advisor for the company Bryte who make science-based sleep solutions. Smart, AI (artificial intelligence) beds. I think Bryte used to give the book to their beta customers. I discovered the book first, then much later the Bryte/Walker connection and that my former classmate from Cal Berkeley is one of the Bryte founders. One path leads to senior executive and founder of high tech companies in Silicon Valley; another path leads to a coffee farm in Hawai’i.

I recently read The Overstory by Richard Powers, which won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2019. It’s great storytelling and features trees and human characters, in a genre called environmental fiction. I really enjoyed it. One of the characters about 2/3 through the book says, “How do we convince people that we’re right?  … The best arguments in the world won’t change a person’s mind.  The only thing that can do that is a good story.” That’s what this book is, a good story.

Throughout, it reminded me of a non-fiction book, The Hidden Life of Trees, which I’ll probably read again. I don’t normally read a book more than once, but in the past years I have been because I simply can’t remember much. (Is that what Google Search does to our brains?) The non-fiction book was interesting and told in a captivating manner, but the fiction (The Overstory) does animate it all and cause me to care even more.

And another book for the times … An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System: A Tale in Four Lives by Matt Richtel. As a layperson, I highly appreciated Richtel’s “cinematic” descriptions, as he called it, about the players in the immune system. It allowed me to build a scaffolding to hang knowledge upon. It lends more context to terms we’ve heard during the pandemic like cytokine storms, monoclonal antibodies, etc. And the four people’s lives provide the storyline that make it real and relatable. That’s another book I read twice. It came out before COVID-19 and Dr. Fauci is quoted in it at times, but this was before his COVID-related fame. I started reading it during the pandemic, but it sometimes felt like too much given the constant media coverage of COVID. I reread it in one go just recently, and I was quickly reminded how much I enjoy the author’s writing.

I see our coffee trees and think about what I’ve learned through these books. What makes coffee trees susceptible/attractive to coffee borer beetle or coffee leaf rust? How do the trees fight off these assaults? What’s happening in our human bodies when we meet a novel coronavirus, and what’s happening with these variants? What’s the equivalent of an immune system for trees?

On another completely different note, here are a few other miscellaneous interesting things to read:

A friend shared this article about a robotic grip being inspired by the gecko developed at Stanford University.

And, to go from university research to the potty, this article in the New York Times is about “Why Does Coffee Make You Poop.”

2 thoughts on “Heartfelt thanks, books, and gecko-inspired invention

  1. Sharlene, I, too, find myself rereading books as I have never done in my younger days. What I experience is that my life experiences and things learned things from other sources give new meaning to a book I read long, or not-so-long, ago. I find it quite satisfying and affirming. I am continuing to grow and learn. Yay for me. Yay for you.
    –Jon

    1. That’s true. And, yes, yay for growing and learning. But I’m realizing that part of the reason I forget more is because I’m reading in the middle of the night. That’s explained in studies described in Why We Sleep. I remember that I slept horribly during my first reading of that book. I probably felt anxious how I’m irreparably sabotaging my health by not being able to sleep well.

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