Saturday, May 29, 2010


Disclaimer: Before you all run a mile, the "i" prefix on the title has nothing to do with Apple nor indeed Macintosh. In fact, this entry has remarkably little to do with technology of any kind.

Mostly, it has to do with caffeine, and the acquisition of it. I mentioned some time ago that I wasn't very good at drinking coffee. I run on enough nervous energy anyway, the addition of caffeine can occasionally produce destructive (if amusing) results. As I said before, if I have a cup of coffee I will shortly require a glass of red wine simply to even things out.

Since saying these things I have made two discoveries.
1. I can drink latte (and to a lesser extent cappuccino) without such an effect.
2. It may be the case that I was simply looking for an excuse to drink red wine, but apparently I don't actually need one.

So, during the exam period I needed places to study. I'm quite good at studying in my flat. I can study at the uni, provided that very few other people are doing so (which more or less ruled it out for the last month). I can't study in my flat all day every day without going completely mental - especially if earlier in the day I have had an exam.

In cases where I required a change of scene I tended to find myself, often with a flat mate, studying in one of the iCafes down the road (I told you it had nothing to do with Apple). This is not problematic until you begin to understand the sheer quantity of time I spent in these establishments. Arriving at noon and not leaving until 7pm was not rare. Clearly spending this kind of time in a cafe also meant that I was spending money in a manner that I'd rather not think about.

Naturally, then, I thought about it. After a fair bit of thought I decided it was not, in fact, all that bad. I made myself feel better about my situation - one which was beginning to look a little like an addiction.

Put it this way; I don't go out drinking very much. Maybe for the odd half here and there, but for the most part it isn't often that I find myself in a bar. I don't actively avoid them, I just don't really have the time. I tend to catch up a little outside term-time, but I'm certainly not making any effort to do so.

At the flat we have a tendency to provide for ourselves anything we are likely to want to drink - often in better style than we might find in a bar. I'm not suggesting that I don't drink, but a good 85% of my drinking is done in the flat - with friends and flat mates.

As for socialising; I can do that in a coffee shop. It's cheaper, lighter, the music is never so loud that you can't hear each other speak, the crowds are never rowdy, the toilets are always clean, and if anyone accidentally has a "drop too much" coffee, the worst side-effect I have found is jitters. No one ever got in a fight for that reason. No one sends confusing, coffee-infused text messages to friends at 3am because they've over-indulged. Do they?

You can sit in a coffee shop alone without looking like you have a problem. You can read a book in one without looking weird. You can study in one and no one bats an eyelid. Importantly, provided you keep buying drinks and the odd muffin - you can stay there all day, and no one will mind a bit. (Unless you're hogging the sofa, but tough, you got there first.)

If a caffeine addiction prevents an alcohol addiction so be it. My need is basically gone now the exams are over. However, come the next time I need to study hard, I suspect I'll find myself there once again. If you need me, look in the iCafe, just don't try to get me to leave.

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