It has often been said (usually by Americans) that there is no great difference between those who live south of the forty-ninth parallel and those of us who live on the Canadian side; but the Klondike experience supplies a good deal of evidence to support the theory that our history and our geography have helped to make us a distinct people – not better and not worse – but different in style, background, attitude, and temperament from our neighbours.
Our national character has not been tempered in the crucible of violence, and our attitudes during the stampede underline this historic truth. In all the Americas ours is the only country that did not separate violently from its European parents. We remained loyal and obedient, safe and relatively dispassionate, and we welcomed to our shores those other loyalists who opted for the status quo. If this lack of revolutionary passion has given us a reasonably tranquil history, it has also, no doubt, contributed to our well-known lack of daring. It is almost a Canadian axiom that we would rather be safe than sorry; alas, we are sometimes sorry that we are so safe.
Happily, we have had very little bloodshed in our history. Our rare insurrections have been fought on tiny stages blown up out of all proportion by the horrifying fact that they have occurred at all. Lynchings are foreign to us and so is gangsterism. The concept of barroom shoot-outs and duels in the sun have no part in our tradition either, possibly because we have had so few barrooms and so little sun. (It is awkward to reach efficiently for a six-gun while wearing a parka and two pairs of mittens.) When sudden, unreasoning violence does occur, as it did when Pierre Laporte was murdered in October, 1970, we tend to over-react. That was, after all, our first political assassination in more than a century and only the second in our history.
If Canadians are a moderate people, as the whiskey advertisements used to say, it is also because of the presence at our back door of a vast and brooding wilderness. The Klondike was and is a part of a wilderness experience that we all share. For the Americans who rushed north in 1897 and 1898, it was a last frontier; for them there were no more wilderness worlds to conquer or even to know. But the frontier is with us still and it shapes us in its own fashion. The experience of naked rock and brooding forest, of slate-coloured lakes and empty valleys, of skeletal birches and gaunt pines, of the wolf’s haunting howl and the loon’s ghostly call is one that is still shared by a majority of Canadians but only a minority of Americans.
There are few of us who do not live within a few hours’ drive of nature. It has bestowed upon us what one American observer, William Henry Chamberlain, has called “a sensation of tranquillity.” The North, still almost as empty as it was in the days before the great stampede, hangs over the country like an immense backdrop, providing, in the words of André Siegfried, “a window out onto the infinite.” A great Canadian editor, Arthur Irwin, once summed it up in a single sentence to a group of Americans. “Nearly every Canadian,” he said, “at some time in his life has felt a shiver of awe and loneliness which comes to a man when he stands alone in the face of untamed nature; and that is why we are a sober and essentially religious people.”
We have been lucky with our history. The American frontier was wrested violently from the Indians and that violence continued until the frontier was tamed. Our own experience came later. The Hudson’s Bay Company, which held the hinterland in thrall for generations, and the Canadian Shield, which retarded the settlement of the plains in the days before the railroad, have been seen as drawbacks to progress. And yet this tardy exploitation of the North West is one of the reasons why we have no Wild West tradition. There was a time when we might have welcomed a more violent kind of frontier mythology, but that time is past.
Every television addict knows that the two mythologies differ markedly. The Americans elected their lawmen – county sheriffs and town marshals – whose gun-slinging exploits helped forge their western legends. Summary justice by groups of vigilantes or hastily deputized posses was part of that legend. If the American frontier was not as violent as the media suggest, it was certainly violent compared with the Canadian frontier. There were no boot hills or hanging trees in our North West, and the idea that a community could take the law into its own hands or that a policeman might be elected by popular suffrage did not enter the heads of a people whose roots were stubbornly colonial and loyalist and whose heritage did not include anything as inflammatory as a Boston Tea Party. A variety of incidents on the Klondike trails bears this out, but the Klondike stampede was not the first occasion when the two traditions clashed on the soil of British North America.
Some people don't like the taste of coffee in a steel cup. They can be very sensitive to the way the taste is altered. I get that (though personally I don't have a positive or negative feeling on drinking from steel - I can taste the difference, but it doesn't bother me).
Recently, someone asked me "how can you be sensitive to steel in your drinking cup, but brew using steel, as in a steel filter basket for your espresso machine, steel kettle, steel innards to an espresso machine or drip machine etc". It got me thinking about that. All of this is a totally non-science-background based assumption. I'd love to hear from real scientists or engineers on this.
I am assuming that steel's reactive nature to coffee is a slow one (steel is a reactive alloy metal - all metals, except gold, are reactive, IIRC). The reaction speed (plus the seasoning) of steel in filters, in espresso machines, in grinders, etc, (all the steel that touches coffee before it gets into a cup) is low.
Also to remember, all these bits of steel are seasoned - they've been in touch with coffee for a long time, and have not have soap and other things rinse that contact away. Just water + heat takes care of things like bacteria, etc. Seasoning is a real thing.
Coffee sitting in a steel cup, one that's faced soapy suds many times, will see a reaction to a bare metal, that coffee going through a portafilter and grouphead made out of steel will not. Just a guess, but I think it's probably accurate.
What do you think?
Absolutely beautiful to look at, it's not the most usable siphon in the world
a) constant worry you're going to break it - there's no sense of confidence when using it, since there's a lot of big, thin glass.
b) inserting the top part into the bottom seems fragile, wobbly; if you do it while the siphon is in its stand, you worry that you'll push too hard and spread the arms out too far on the stand and crash, break everything
c) pouring coffee from this is a mess - the spout doesn't work. Coffee dribbles, back splashes, sprays.
d) coffee left in bottom of the wide carafe base even at extreme pouring angles
e) silicone middle sleeve still can get too hot.
But it sure is gorgeous to look at and makes a statement.
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