Friday, November 30, 2012

Tough times on the west side

In the ten years since we've lived on the west side, the house next door has had a slew of tenants. Some of them leave after a month or two quietly. Others have had plenty of backyard drama with a lot of yelling and weapons being discharged. Who knows what else has gone on in there? Hydroponics and basement lights that were on 24/7? Various sizes of dogs sadly chained and penned up.

The most recent tenants had three kids. And they were kids who played a lot in the yard, made kid noise with balls going into our yard that I threw back because I always vowed to not be that neighbor, the ball keeper. One afternoon one of the urchins rigged up a skateboard as a swing in a tree. Trouble was, the tree is in my yard and having been a kid, that contraption would end with something breaking - and I'm not going to pay for that. Went over and met the mother of at least one of the kids, a fearful, once pretty young woman who may be in an overwhelming situation. She was quite apologetic when I went over and said my case, and the dangerous object was taken off my tree.

The last few weeks were tough. There was more yelling than usual and the police were on the front porch at least once. The backyard was a mess, with the kids using tires and an old crib we threw out that became co-opted as some form of fort. You have to give them credit for being creative.

Sometime during the day yesterday they were evicted.

Checked for court cases on the county website and confirmed that they were, in fact, evicted.

Really not keen with what was left behind for everyone to see though. Hope the kids are ok. You can find out a lot of sad, unfortunate things from the Clerk of Courts website.

This is the part I really do not like. The house has been trashed, gutted and who knows what is on the lawn. I heard some people out there earlier, throwing some of the crap into a pickup truck. If this is not cleaned up by Monday I will be calling the city to get the landlord to clean up this mess.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wrote itself after the first line

Back on July 4th, a college friend died suddenly. Today would have been his 52nd birthday.

First birthday, gone

This is for the kid who is going to work their way through college playing bottles behind the bar with spoons.
This is for the kid who is going to do more over nights celebrating that it’s Thursday and that we are all alive instead of chemistry 101
This is for the artists, the music lovers, barroom poets, drinkers of cheap drinks. The chewers of bubble gum instead of tobacco.
This is for the 3AM conversations on fire landings, pot luck dinners fueled by bottles of Mateus wine and canned beer.
This is for the bedroom music studios and midnight recording sessions that got played on the college radio station.
This is for the ones who pulled the overnight shift at the convenience store, the ones who pulled the drunks out of gutters at 4AM, the ones who let us off for pissing in an alley.
This is for every professor with a loose attendance policy, for the dining hall breakfast worker who gave out extra bacon.

For every father who loves his children

For everyone we love, who left us too soon.

A scholarship for Fredonia High School seniors in Doug's name has been established, you can find out how to contribute here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

First expereinces with Zicam

Children are vectors for germs, my wife has said. She's right. My son was sick last week and gave me what he had. Whatever virus or bacteria he transmitted to me put me out of commission for about 32 hours straight last Wednesday to Thursday. All I did was sleep and lie there, wondering why my head hurt so much. Even after discovering that Zicam is not ineffective, trips out for errands over the holiday weekend were draining.

Poor kid still has the remnants, and he gave what he had to his mother. Such a sweet boy. The only person who did not get the crud was my wife, and I hope she does not. This thing sucks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Feel like I should be doing something

I sometimes get antsy around this time of year. The holidays make me anxious even without my retail past. Used to be a very busy time of year for me. A lot of hard work making sure folks got their booze. Had to make sure there was enough, without breaking the budget on inventory. It was a difficult balance but there were times the last four weeks of the year were nothing but profit. There were also times we had to sell enough to make payroll, and to buy merchandise.

I'm not sure when this picture was taken on Main Street in Fredonia, sometime in the late sixties is my guess. But that sign that says "Liquor Store" was still there the last time I visited.

Business was a bit more successful in Fredonia. Mr. B. had been running the show for awhile. Thanksgiving was always the busiest holiday of the year, with the day before being the day that brought the biggest receipts. Mr. B. even went in for a few hours by himsef on Thanksgiving Day morning. He seemed to enjoy taking care of people getting their last minute wine and liquor.

For the life of me I cannot remember if Mr. S., after he bought the business, went in on those mornings. I can't remember if I went instead. The late eighties were a bit of a blur to me.

Things in Columbus were no different at first. We blew out so much wine at the Holiday. So much Beaujolais Nouveau and Champagne went out the door. We really kicked ass for a couple of years. We'd drink good wine the night before each holiday. Sometimes Perrier Jouet, Dom Perignon one year, we worked hard and drank well. I miss the pre-cooked shrimp C. would bring from Johnson's downtown.

The year I ran the place my ex-wife helped out a lot along with a man who used to be a bar regular. He spelled me on the floor and did quite a good job at it. The extra hands were needed. We made a little money that year. I honestly cannot remember if we were open on Thanksgiving Day at any of the shops I worked at in Columbus.

At the other eponymous wine shop I worked at, the tone shifted. Because the owner was screwing up so much we did not have basics to sell, especially in home brewing supplies. More than a few people left empty handed and disappointed. Hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in sales lost because he did not know how to buy and would not listen to reason from the co-owner or myself. The pressure was immense, selling merchandise just to make payroll instead of profiting from our work. Holidays sucked in the later part of the nineties. I got tired of saying no, it hurt.

It was vastly different at the bookstore. Even with all the craziness, and it was nuts, there never seemed to be much pressure. The stuff was going to sell, it was just those damn loyalty cards that management wanted sold. Luckily, I did not work the register much.

At the library, it's another world. From my desk I barely see the change from quarters to semesters - maybe a little bit in how the books flow into the building but that's it. I barely miss retail and have little desire to be out in it. I'm seeing Black Friday push back into Thanksgiving Day and it's a matter of time before Thanksgiving Eve comes into play. It's tough when so much business is done during one four week period of the year, but when did the the joy of shopping and giving become a obsessive fetish instead of a pleasure?

Even now though, many years removed from the madness, I get a bit triggered about what transpired, and try to find the good things that happened during my time in the retail wine scrum. I can still pick an awesome wine to go with turkey.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A switch is on

Got the good news this morning that the online link to apply to read on the Word is Art Stage at the 2013 Columbus Arts Festival went live.

This is exciting news. It lets me know that it's time to really start promoting the event. Been working hard on getting a committee together, have some great people on it already and can always use a few more. Organizing a festival schedule is tough, but we have a few groups penciled in on Friday and Sunday.

But Saturday, this is the individual part of the Arts Festival. Over 20 poets are going to get to shine on a stage in front of a great potential audience, in a gorgeous setting on the Columbus downtown riverfront.

And here is the link to apply.

Get on this poets! I'd love to see submissions from all over, to have an incredibly deep pool of poets to select an amazing group of talent who will represent themselves on stage in June.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Claiming to be my new best friend

A few weeks back we got a flat screen television. I like it, the picture is big enough for the living room and I can see the numbers on the screen during sporting events again. I run the sound through my home theater system and it's more than adequate for sight and sound aesthetics.

Two nights ago we bought a Roku, a device the size of a hockey puck that organizes wireless internet video and audio content and allows you to stream the images and sounds over your television - freeing up the laptop for other time sucking things. It's also said to eliminate your need for cable, but I'm not too sure of that.

Last night I subscribed to Netflix, an eight dollar a month service that contains a vast library of film and television programming. After one day, I'm impressed with what it has to offer. If I can sit around all night and watch Cracker episodes that I did not watch twenty years ago, I consider that eight bucks a month well spent. Plus, there are many, many movies that I have not seen, all ready to stream for me at the click of the remote. There's so much on Netflix, I do not think there's a need to look into Amazon Prime, which does has a decent library of more current materials.

Heck there's so much on other channels that there really is not much need for Netflix, but Netflix is where a lot of the fun is at. It can be a real rabbit hole of discovery and re-discovery, too.

What I'm disappointed in, so far, is that the Roku and its private channels do not offer much live streaming content, at least not what I'm interested in or able to find yet. My interest is sports, soccer in particular. I've researched this online and found it may be available, but I have not found any. Or, what was previously available has been taken down. Such is the life of someone seeking free pirated content. There are a couple of interesting private channels that have old, public domain films. Quite a bit of searching to do here.

If there was a decent streaming service available, and Fox Soccer2go is not it, I'd be right on it. If the BBC would get it's head out of its ass and give us in the states a version of the iPlayer I'd be there. Frankly, I'm tired of watching Everton on dodgy links and $20 is on the edge of what I want to pay for Fox, especially with them losing the EPL after this season. Not a big fan of watching stuff on the laptop all the time, and going to a sports bar is fun, but they're out of my way - and I can't always get there. We'll just have to wait for the summer to see what NBC does with soccer programming.

The Roku is a great little piece of technology though. I'm not sure it's going to allow me to eliminate any layers of cable at this time, however it really gives me an option because I do not watch a lot of current television, other than sports. And anything that gives me a real reason to use Pandora again, and crank it through my stereo, is not necessarily a bad thing.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Happy birthday

She shares a birthday with my Mother. Mom's not 80, but Petula Clark is.

Happy birthday to them both!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A struggle to remain neutral

I've found myself, once again, in a battle with a local children's hospital over medical bills. Last year it took about nine months to resolve my son's dental bill and I'm afraid the hospital is still not done.

Was told that some of the discrepancies come from some bills from last year. I have the paperwork, and the payments that went sent, checks which were cashed.

It is very hard for me to deal with a hospital with a sub-standard billing system, a phone tree that is impossible to get through in a reasonable amount of time, robo calls, representatives who give you the wrong number to call. Sure, they may have a nice shiny new building to crow about, but even on the best days their payment model is shoddy.

Now I will receive a large packet depicting my son's account with them in the mail and I get to spend time figuring out which bills I paid, or even over paid, if I paid them at all, or if I was even billed for services received.

Good times.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bad weather, good day off randomness

I'm drinking a Brazilian coffee I bought at Stauf's. This stuff is a lot darker than I expected, and quite delicious.

Yes, Grover Norquist, patron saint of the tea party, just said Romney lost because Obama called him a poopy-head.

It's not even high school anymore, this is first grade playground stuff now. Norquist would get slayed in a dozens round.

The check engine light keeps coming on in my car while I'm running errands. Finally unscrewed a dashboard panel and connected two wires to allow the car's computer to give me the code of what is wrong. Turns out, a valve is not operating properly. Not a major cause the car to blow up valve, so we are free to move about the county.

Skyfall is one of the better Bond films. Go see it. He drinks a lot of McCallan.

After a glorious weekend here, the weather has turned sad and rainy. We have the day off today. Thank you Veterans.

Got a couple of errands to run after we go for breakfast

Thursday, November 8, 2012

First, do no harm

Just over a day after Obama's reelection and the sun rose, as it always has, and will for the next few million years.

We're still here. The Tu-44 tank lines have not showed up on Broad Street. The Dow Jones dropped a bit yesterday but few mentioned how much it has recovered in the last four years.

Canada and their Socialist ways, has not launched an invasion. The Molson Rebellion failed as Americans went to craft brew. Sweden and Norway have not begun airstrikes, but more Americans may be selling stocks and investing, secretly, in the Kroner.

A fiscal cliff awaits, as politicians will begin to once again posture and obstruct. Will they have learned their lesson and stop diminishing rape?

Our troops are still in Afghanistan, our mercenaries in Iraq. Drones in Yemen and in backyards in Idaho.

Our rural and urban areas remain divided in affiliations, as much, if not more than four years ago.

The media will continue to report what Donald Trump tweets as fact. Social media will not solve this nation's problems, but randomized capitalization in Facebook comments will continue.

The NHL season may or may not happen.

Thankfully, Josh Mandel remains Treasurer of the State of Ohio. Due to redistricting, my new congresswoman is Joyce Beatty. It is what it is.

The sun will set tonight.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post-election Haiku

A heart beat away
Joe Biden, Joe Biden, Joe -
One heart beat away

Saturday, November 3, 2012

$2.50 cheaper than an adult

We went to see Wreck-it Ralph today. By we I mean my wife and son. It's only the second time he's been in a theater setting. This was his first full length feature.

At swimming my son's mother said she was taking him to Disney World for Christmas (I knew they were going to Florida) and that she was trying to introduce him to Mickey Mouse, whatever that means.

We got there just in time to take in the trailers. My son did very well. He did look around him a few times, maybe to look for an escape route. We brought in a lollipop for him and he was content enough with that as he babbled off and on during the film. It may have been a bit long for him as he was not very interested in the credits, which stop him dead in his tracks when they're on television. He did not hesitate to leave once his coat was on.

The film itself was quite enjoyable for kids of all ages. Enough video game nostalgia and double meanings to keep the adults entertained within the kid humor.

The voice casting was quite good with Sarah Silverman standing out and Alan Tudyk doing amazing work channeling Paul Winchell.