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It’s the simple things that fill our days.  The little triumphs that affirm our way of thinking.  This morning, I am reading the paper while sipping a three cent cup of coffee.  Both things—the morning newspaper and a cheap cup of coffee—are endangered species of the modern world.  Hello, 1921.

I am on an austerity kick of late.  I drink  lot of coffee—black, no cream, no sugar—and it became increasingly painful to shell out what amounted to $1 a cup for those little containers sold for Keurig machines.  Recently a reusable plastic adapter that fits in the machine and is filled with loose ground coffee caught my eye.  Now I am in thrift heaven.  I disregarded the instructions that warned against using espresso ground and decided to make a dark roast using a $3.57 can of Café Bustelo, which is endearingly labeled in English on one side and Spanish on the other.  (Hello Havana!)  It makes a full bodied, robust cup of coffee with about a tablespoon of grounds.  It’s much easier and makes a better cup of coffee than a French press. I am estimating I’ll get about 150 cups out of the ten ounce can.

Recently Susan declared that a cup of this Bustelo ground coffee made with two pumps of Fontana bittersweet mocha and a lump of whipped cream imitates a $5.00 Starbucks mocha latte.  For about a quarter.  Take that, you hip barista thieves!

But for all of my money-saving zeal, I am woefully unable to reproduce the value of a daily newspaper.  In yesterday’s edition, I read another in-depth piece on corruption in our State Bureau of Investigation, which is coddling corrupt detectives who doctor confessions and cook forensic reports to send innocent men to prison.  My stomach turns every time I read about another man who has spent decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit—a crime the SBI knew he didn’t commit—only to be cleared later by DNA evidence.  And my stomach has been queasy more than a few mornings, of late.  Although it is uncomfortable to read these stories over my Cheerios, our local paper, the Raleigh News & Observer, performs an invaluable public service by shining a light on the darker corners of our state government.  I may be pinching pennies on my morning coffee, but I will gladly pay full price for the morning paper to ensure that this watchdog stays at his post on my doorstep.