ImageI’m not usually one to celebrate Halloween. If I were going to make a statement of some sort I’d probably prefer to focus on the fact that it’s also Reformation Day. I’m not exactly opposed to Halloween, I just don’t make a big deal out of it. So today I want to share some music in the spirit of all things creepy and scary. I’ll let the music speak for itself. Feel free to share more in the comments.

The following as suggested by John Schambach.

It boils down to this: go do the work you love and damn the financial consequences. It isn’t suggesting that life should always be easy or that you can make loads of money by doing what you enjoy, but rather that we place too high a value on money and live miserable lives as a result.

It’s the reason I started Three Crowns Coffee. I love coffee. I love roasting, making, introducing people to good coffee, the creativity of it, the smell of it, and on and on the list goes. I had a “better” job before I got into the coffee industry. I made more money and had good benefits, but I was miserable. It made my wife miserable.

Now I work in an industry that most people view as something for high schoolers to make a little cash for the weekend. But I am fortunate and blessed to have this job. I am blessed to be able to make money doing what I love. It makes getting up at 5 am worth it. It makes washing dishes and cleaning bathrooms worth it. It make pouring over the finances for endless hours worth it.

It’s a bit of advice that’s popular at graduation ceremonies and in trendy YouTube videos, but few people follow it. We love to excuse it. “When I have enough money, I’ll start my own business,” “I can’t just quit my job, I’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed.” I’m not advocating irresponsibility, but I firmly believe if we are pursuing our passions the money will follow.

For some it may mean choosing a path less traveled. Skipping college despite the pressures to graduate from the same school the family has gone to for generations. For others it may mean taking a lower paying job and forgoing the financial security afforded elsewhere. I don’t know where your path will take you, but if you follow your passions it will show in the way you work and that won’t go unnoticed.

Go live the dream.

salt

Why do we automatically reach for the salt/sugar/pepper/cream before we try whatever we’re about to put in our mouths. Have we been raised by a generation of bad cooks on heat lamp tanned fast food? Has our cumulative experience been so bad that we anticipate lackluster dining and continue to put up with it?

Maybe it’s my experience at a restaurant that refused to put salt and pepper out on the theory that every dish is supposed to be perfect when it arrives at the table. Maybe it’s because I prefer my coffee black and can’t taste the subtleties of a given coffee when it’s drenched in cream. But I’d like to see people put a little faith in the people in the kitchen and behind the bar. They are the professionals after all.

I’m not saying that your favorite spice or condiment isn’t valid. Sometimes it’s necessary. But do your palette a favor and just try  something as it was intended. Without the salt/sugar/pepper/cream/etc.

All this week I’ve been down at the Saint Regis Club helping to put the final touches on the new space and menu for Three Crowns Coffee. It’s exciting! We are finalizing details, getting over caffeinated, and getting in lots of practice on the espresso machine. We’re trying out house made syrups and perfecting recipes. Soft open is slated for Monday morning at 7 am pending enough of the details are in place (and they should be). I’ll keep you posted on a grand opening celebration. For now check out these pictures and follow me on Instagram for more updates.

3cc logo aeropress cold brew dave drawing latte art 1 night deposit pour over first friday sign swedish flag yirg

syriaNothing that’s happened in Syria was done in secret. We’ve all been watching it unfold. Let me be clear by saying I do not condone the atrocities committed by dictators against their own people or anyone else. But I do not understand this concept of a “red line.” If it is OK for Assad to kill his own people using the standard weapons of war, then why is it suddenly not OK to change the method? The problem only gets more confusing when you consider that by some estimates 100,000 Syrians have been killed in this civil war before the use of poison gas. If you’re making the case for an intervention, you’re not doing a good job. It’s like telling the school bully that he can punch a kid until he bruises, but the minute he draws blood, you’re stepping in.

But all that to say I’m still struggling with this. Part of me says war is terrible and we should not get involved. Our involvement would only escalate the situation possibly bringing in more people and more nations. We hardly know what is going on over there and who is who. We have a history of supporting one side this year and declaring them dictators the next. The other half of me says that innocent people are being killed, we should do whatever we can to prevent this. But is military intervention really the best course of action? Or should we be on the ground seeking to move people out in a humanitarian way using our military to protect innocent lives as we escort them away from the fighting?

War should always be a last resort and it seems to me that we are rushing into this. The American people are not behind it. 60% are against military intervention in Syria. A mere 9% support military action there. I am praying that the President will at least go through the normal channels of waging war as outlined in the Constitution by asking Congress to declare it should we decide to intervene in a militaristic capacity. Pray for the protection of the Syrian people. Pray for those that would be involved in a military intervention. Pray for the unintended consequences of our impending intervention.

Cover Photo 4My wife and I are getting good at doing lots of major life changes all at once. We were talking with a good friend the other day and realizing just how much change we’ve been through and are continuing to go through in the last 12 months alone. Here’s a short list:

  • Moved – 2 states and 3 apartments.
  • New jobs – Including my new venture at St. Regis.
  • One apartment fire – Don’t care to do that ever again.
  • Buying a home – We started looking (un)officially last week.
  • And the biggest one of all… We’re having a baby! Due sometime in April.

Life is crazy and exciting. We never thought we’d be where we are. But the thread that ties it all together is “God is good.”

ImageWell, it’s Friday and I promised a big announcement. Starting in September I will be heading up the brand new coffee program at the St. Regis Club under the name Three Crowns Coffee.

We will bring high end coffee to Warsaw, IN in a way that hasn’t been seen before. Out with the airpots, flavored coffees, and 6 inches of whipped cream. In with the pour overs, traditional Italian espresso drinks, and house made syrups. Our focus will be on educating the public about coffee and the wide variety of flavors within a simple, black cup of coffee. We are looking forward to hosting cupping events and helping people understand the process that coffee goes through before it reaches their cup.

If you’d like to sample some of our coffee we’ll be set up for First Friday either in the alley next to St. Regis or inside in the lobby. We’ll be doing pour over of some of my favorite coffees starting about 5. It’s free, but when it’s gone, it’s gone, so don’t be late.

I’ll post more here as it unfolds. Looking forward to serving your morning cup of coffee.

illegal-immigrationBeen thinking this morning about the immigration reform debate and I’ve got a few questions. It seems to me that the debate is often framed in ways that distort and distract from the root problems. I’m not trying to claim I’ve got the answers, but I think I have some pretty good questions about the whole debate.

Why are we concerned about cheap labor?

Consider this for a moment. If an employer and a potential employee agree on a wage for a job, at any price point, why do we feel the need to interfere if that wage is “too low”? Consider what would happen if we were to abolish the minimum wage. Costs for producing goods and services would drop. Cost of living would drop. People could live better lives while making less money. The standard of living would increase and be more accessible for more people. Requiring employers to pay a minimum wage decreases the number of employees an employer is able to hire when they have limited resources for payroll.

Abolishing the minimum wage doesn’t necessarily imply that we will all suddenly be working for $1.25/hr (pretty sure my parents both had jobs at or near this rate). It does mean that the market will determine what a given job is truly worth and hopeful employees will be able to accept or reject a job offer based on their needs and job availability. It does mean that future minimum wage increases would no longer force businesses to get by with fewer employees or worse close their doors, which in itself results in increased customer satisfaction and increased employee satisfaction.

Why is it so hard to become a citizen?

Though I was born here, I’m told that America is one of the most difficult places to become a naturalized citizen. It’s not exactly cheap. It requires learning a language that isn’t even our official one. And it takes a very long time. We have a lot of complex laws for becoming a citizen. Perhaps if we simplified the process more people would want to come here legally.

What about unemployment for American citizens?

Often people against illegal immigration cite high unemployment for American citizens. I believe if we abolished the minimum wage more jobs would become available and unemployment would plummet. Minimum wage laws prohibit many employers from hiring the employees they need because they cannot afford to pay minimum wage.

We are a long way from abolishing the minimum wage because most people see the increase in wages, but don’t see the increase in costs and the elimination or non-creation of jobs as a result. It influences the immigration reform debate. I think it’s a problem we could solve by letting people be more free.

bass recI’ve spent a fair amount of time in my studio lately. Not because it happens to be in my living room, but because after a long time of recording, re-recording, editing, mixing, and remixing I’m finally wrapping up my acoustic album. It’s turning out better than I had hoped. I can honestly say it’s my best recorded work to date. So I thought I’d put together some thoughts on the process and what I learned about recording and myself.

Try New Things
I’m a real creature of habit, sometimes even if it makes more sense to do things another way. But this time around I made a conscious effort to try a few new things. I skipped my default EQ plug in and did most of the EQing with the standard Cubase (I’m still using LE4) graphic EQ. I also used a new reverb plugin that forced me to learn what the settings do. All in all it made me better at producing music.

Get Some Help
I started out with the intention of this being the ultimate DIY project, but somewhere in the middle I changed my mind and decided to ask a few friends to play on it. Those tracks made the album. For example, I play the mandolin on a few tracks, but my playing doesn’t come anywhere near the tracks that Will played on because he’s a much better mandolinist than I am.

If At First You Don’t Succeed
This project made me painfully aware of my singing abilities. I can’t count the number of vocal takes I did. But one thing I learned about myself is that if it isn’t working, forcing it won’t help. Often I’d listen to a track and discover that one line wasn’t quite there, so I’d re-record it days later and suddenly that one line was far better than the rest. Often I had no choice but to redo the whole vocal track and ended up with much better results.

Let Go of Perfection
One of the best parts of doing this DIY project is that I’m not paying for studio time. I can spend as much time in the studio as life will allow. I could keep obsessing over parts and arrangements and go back and re-record entire songs if I want. But I won’t. If I did, I’d never be done. So I’m leaving in a few vocals that aren’t quite perfect and a few timing mistakes. Part of that might be me being lazy, but I like to think that those mistakes are part of what makes this my album. I’m still pleased with how it’s turned out, but it’s not perfect and it doesn’t need to be.

The StudioLately I’ve been spending a fair amount of time in my studio. I’ve been listening to mixes (check this rough mix out for yourself), thinking about album art (does anyone still create album art?), and figuring out exactly how I’m going to release this very independent record. I’ve been contemplating having you; my friends, family, and faithful readers/listeners, be my album art production team.

Here’s how it works: Grab your smartphone and start snapping pictures that communicate the concept of The Finishing Touches. Upload them to Instragram (follow me @ercsguitar) and use the hashtag #ESquiresAlbumArt. Then on May 31 I’ll select my favorite and it will become the album art for my acoustic album which I have just named The Finishing Touches. If your Instagram is selected, I’ll send you a download code for an unreleased song. So start taking some pictures!