Cleverness and Kindness

“Jeff, one day you’ll understand that it’s harder to be kind than clever.”
What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy — they’re given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful, and if you do, it’ll probably be to the detriment of your choices.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO + Founder. Princeton 2010 Commencement Speech.

I think this is a tough lesson for many millennials. Particularly here in the Bay Area, there are many gifted and very smart individuals. And yet the choices of these gifted individuals do not seem to have a net positive affect on the rest of society. There is still a huge divide between the poor and wealthy here. The poor continue to get muscled out of the Bay Area. Advancements for the poor (such as raising minimum wages and laws to protect low wage workers or after school academic programs at inner city schools) seem to be challenged and and de-funded every step of the way. You would think that with all the gifts and brains and technology in this area, we would have been able to solve some pretty fundamental social problems. I do love Jeff’s speech though. He poses the question to the graduating class of 2010 – “How will you use these gifts? And will you take pride in your gifts or pride in your choices?”


Homemade Cold Brewed Coffee
Source: I love Kitchen Treaty’s blog entry
This is quite the trendy beverage right now, and I can see why. It’s delicious. The method reduces any kind of acrid/sour taste in the coffee, and it’s just so darn easy. However, I don’t think it warrants the ridiculous price tag that you’ll find in some parts of San Francisco, as it’s so easy to replicate at home. The following instructions create a concentrate that you can dispense and dilute as you see fit. For our household, a double-batch satisfies us for a week, and we drink coffee every weekday morning. Just remember to cover and refrigerate the concentrate until use.

Ingredients + Tools
1 c whole beans, freshly grounded [I used Peet’s Espresso Forte]
4 c filtered water
1-2 paper coffee filters
Funnel or strainer/sieve

In a large container, mix together the ground coffee beans and 4 cups of filtered water. Cover and allow to steep for at least 12 hours. Place a paper coffee filter in a funnel or strainer/sieve and place that over another clean container. Pour the coffee/water mixture through the filter, and watch the liquid stream through. I like to use a ladle or the back of a spoon to press out more liquid from the beans. Toss the coffee beans and paper filter. Keep the liquid gold.


To consume, in a cup with some ice, add concentrate and cold water. I like to do a 1:1 ratio of concentrate to water, though for David, who likes it stronger, prefers a blend closer to 1.5:1, favoring the coffee concentrate. You can also add milk/cream and your sweetener of choice to your individual cup. Being Vietnamese, I obviously prefer condensed milk, but a bit of half and half or whole milk works too.


I find cold brewed to be so convenient and satisfying. Every time you need a coffee fix, there’s a ready and steady dose of it in your fridge. All you need to do is dispense, dilute with water, and add your sugar/dairy (if you’d like), and enjoy. Ahh, soo refreshing.

I have also found that I can make a “affaux-gato” using the concentrate… here you see 2 scoops of Talenti gelato and 3 tbs of concentrate. If you blend this, you’ll have something that resembles a Frappacino from Starbucks. In either straight or blended form, it’s a delicious dessert and perfect for the hot temperatures we’ve been experiencing here in the Bay.

After all this caffeine, I am suuper wired. There is a LOT of caffeine here, and it’s all so tasty! I’m sure I will pay the price for this later tonight, when I find myself tossing and turning in bed instead of getting some shut eye. So worth it though.

Thanks for stopping by!

PS. Over the weekend, the NYT published a rather scathing article about the work culture at Amazon. While I have never worked at Amazon, it appears this article directly contradicts the commencement speech above. I don’t know Jeff personally and I realize that actions speak louder than words, but I would hope that a man who could give so compelling of a story/speech would not condone the types of behavior of the unkind bosses described in that NYT article.

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