I used to think coffee houses were intellectual havens for political debate, intellectual conversation, cigarette-smoke-clogged air, and Jack Kerouac-inspired prose around round, sticky tables stained by one-too-many spilled espressos.
As with most everything in life, my, how things have changed. At least they got rid of the smoke.
During a visit to a local coffee emporium, I came face-to-face to a new reality -- no one is even talking in these places. Individualism trumps teams, pairs, couples and friends. Conversation is only between the eyes and a tablet, laptop computer or phone screen.
For 95 percent of the patrons, no one is looking up, no one is using vocal cords or verbalizing about Congressional gridlock, prospects for new jobs or debate over Best Picture nominees.
If it's just all about collecting and assimilating data, it's a great playground. But if you are trying to build relationships, jump start social interaction or just enjoy a hot latte within your own thoughts, the place is now as cold and uncomfortable as the dreary winter weather outside.