Frequent Flyer Miles

I usually fly on Delta, so I have built up some frequent flyer miles over the years. It takes a long time because I don’t fly that often (I think the last free flight I earned was in 1991), but I went to Ireland a few years ago, then got a bunch of miles for switching natural gas companies one time, plus a few trips out west over the years.

In November I will fly out to San Francisco, so I thought I should see if I have enough miles. The fares aren’t that bad, so the flight was maybe $320 round trip. I could get a free ($11.20, almost free) flight for 25,000 miles. I wondered if this was a good deal though. What are 25,000 miles really worth? So I looked it up and found that a mile is worth anywhere from about a half cent to about 5 cents. The article said that if you wanted to maximize the value of your miles, you should never get an economy class cross-country ticket, because that was the lowest value you could earn. Instead they recommended purchasing an upgradeable cross-country ticket (for about $600) and then using your miles to upgrade to business class ($2700). Then instead of spending 25,000 miles on a $320 flight, you were spending 25,000 miles adding $2100 in value to your flight. But on my flight, the first class ticket is more like $1300 (I don’t know how much an upgradeable ticket would cost). I’m sure business class is worth something, but for me it isn’t worth a whole lot since I’m only spending a few hours on the plane and it goes to the same place as economy class. I’d much rather get a free flight every 25 years.

Grinding Coffee

A few years ago I did some research on coffee and wound up buying an Aeropress coffee maker. I would make coffee on the weekends, but eventually I would have headaches on the weekends, so I stopped drinking coffee. By collecting Kellogg’s box tops on line, I eventually earned a free bag of Gevalia coffee. So I started drinking coffee again and Gevalia is certainly better than Publix store brand. I was running low and thought it was time to actually buy a bag of coffee. Consumer Reports generally rates Eight o’ Clock coffee as the best of normally priced, widely available coffee, so I got some of that when Publix had it on sale.

This morning I opened up my new bag of coffee. Beans. I didn’t realize I had gotten a bag of whole beans. Unfortunately, I don’t have a grinder and my last experience with grinding coffee at a store did not go well. I knew David had a burr grinder which he doesn’t use for coffee anymore, but I didn’t think he would care (he had left the house to go hang out with Eric). I found his grinder, but it had chocolate in it, so I didn’t want to mess with that. I thought maybe I could buy one online, but even the hand-cranked ones are about $20. I also saw an electric one that uses a blade and is their most popular grinder. That made me think of my Magic Bullet blender that Mom gave me the Christmas after David stayed with me the first time (he told her I needed one). So I ground up a spoonful of beans in the Magic Bullet. It worked, but it was still pretty coarse even after grinding for a while. As I drank my coffee (which was okay, maybe a little weak), I read up on using a Magic Bullet for coffee. It turned out that the 4-blade attachment isn’t as good for grinding as the 2-blade attachment. And the blade grinders in general tend to produce very uneven size grounds, with some coarse and some very fine, which doesn’t matter that much with the Aeropress since it uses a paper filter anyway. You probably get less coffee flavor out of the coarse chunks. But otherwise everyone says you definitely need to grind your own beans and make coffee immediately to get the best coffee. So maybe this mistake will turn out okay. Later on I made a second cup of coffee using the 2-blade grinder and I think it worked better but there was still a lot of coarsely ground coffee in the mix. The experts say electric grinders heat up the grounds and make them lose flavor whereas the hand and even electric burr grinders give a more uniform particle size that is needed for making espresso.