Saturday, February 27, 2016

Tale of two cities

Did something out of the norm last night and left the car at home. Since we're not in walkable distance of anything, we took the COTA bus downtown for dinner at a newer restaurant It's been a stressful time and this was a good opportunity to relax, have a good meal, a couple of drinks, and not have to worry about parking downtown or getting an OMVI on the way home.

I did not realize Salt and Pine took up most of the length of a city block. It does not go deep into the building, but the layout is very modern. Some tables are intimate and secluded, while others seem to be on public display. We got a window table with a view of High Street.

The service is excellent, though I could not help but notice our female servers had one button extra unbuttoned on their work shirts. The flank steak I had was outstanding, my wife had a pork cheek pasta that was very good. The cocktails were fresh and potent. I had my first taste of Pisco. Our fig pudding dessert was the one minus. It was too dry and needed a soaking in the sauce.

It is odd, paying an electric bill for dinner. What a few years ago would have been a serious luxury was not so this time. We can't afford to go there weekly, or even monthly, but this was a gift for my wife and I. Ten years ago this would have been impossible. Finances have improved. We're alright, not great, but better than ok.

On a day where the city of Columbus deemed that the short north was no longer a place for low income people to live, the ride home was an unsettling reality of the two cities in my city.

This is the route my wife takes, everyday, and she hears stories, sees things and they're not pleasant. At one stop, a good portion of the passengers got off and crossed over at West Mound. These people were all going to the homeless shelter on Harmon. Heaven help this city if there's another shelter for people in the inner core. We have to have them outside of downtown, out of sight, at a spot you can't access easily by foot. Where your journey to a cot for the night begins at an unlit bus stop.

I do not have any real answers, and I'm not going to be guilt tripped after having an expensive dinner. There's a gap though, between me in a warm room tapping this on my Macbook Pro in our underwater mortgaged house. There are changes coming for the better for my family. Others though, I wonder where there is hope.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Snow Day reading about craft beer turns into a blog post

Another snow day today so while the boy is upstairs on his iPad I got to read an interesting local blog post about weirdness in the local craft beer trade. I've read some interesting whispers about things that are happening locally that are quite sad and disturbing and I'm pleased to see someone was brave enough to put their thoughts down.

Very little of what the author wrote surprised me. She was spot on in her reporting that micro-breweries are putting out mediocre beer just to have something new to market. If you can't establish why you wanted to become a craft brewer with a signature beer or two, drinkers are going to find you out when you keep putting adjectives into cans instead of decent product.

Read the post I linked to, it summarizes a lot of what I've been micro-ranting about on social media for the past few years.

Here's my post about Trophy Beverages from 2014.

When I worked for McGee's back in the nineties, there was a lot of cooperation and synergy between retailer/wholesaler and the few micro-breweries in Columbus at the time. We were trying to break even at best, which did not happen to McGee's in the long run, and introduce good products to our customers. And if a brand did not work, we did not recommend or support it. Sorry to Gambrinius who had some massive sanitation issues when an attempt was made to bring the brand back.

Every Friday turned into a beer tasting, we'd open up the new stuff, people would bring in beer that they had acquired on the travels to The Party Source or out of state and we'd discover what was happening in other states or a cool foreign beer we could not get in Ohio. Sure it was illegal to do it so openly, it was all new.

Our shop put on one of the first outdoor beer festivals in Columbus in 1996 when we pitched a couple of tents in the Bank Block parking lot behind the shop, invited the local brewers and wholesalers to pour their stuff, had a homebrew competition and we had a reasonably good time doing it.

There was allocated product, but no one really went without. No retailer really tried to hoard all of any given release, our customers did not buy up all of our product for their use. There was sharing, and that spirit seems to have disappeared. The changes of the industry and the drinking culture bros who go for the trophy brews over anything else, is flattening my interest.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Ten year old free write


I mean. Geez. Sometimes you have to merely listen to your colon to know to show that what's happening externally just isn't cutting it - so to speak. Your body knows. It flees stress, even though you take it to that wall of anxiety and try to ram it. Failing at that, the food beckons. All those cashews, cherries, fruit rolls and cognac are masticated and guzzled like a cheeseball. Have you ever looked in your gut? If you could see the intestinal laws that are made - if there was a window in our belly we'd all be very very thin.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Final Whistle

After the baseball strike of 1994 I vowed to not watch a game or read a box score for a season. I cannot tell you anything about the 1995 season, or much about the years following as I realized I did not miss the game much until recent years. It took me until 2014 to attend another live MLB game in Pittsburgh. I am capable of turning my back on things. Sometimes it does not work out, sometimes it does. This time, I’m not so sure, but I’m going to give it a chance to take. Fandom is a hard thing to reduce, let alone get rid of.

After 43 years of following the National Football League, it’s time for me to take a hiatus. A break that may be permanent. This is why.

Tired of the paid acceptance of the military industrial complex.
Tired of the concussions.
Tired of the cover ups of concussions.
Tired of the acceptance of domestic violence of players.
Tired of the fining of players for minor changes in their uniforms while other players commit acts of domestic violence. Oh, and $10,000 fines for not wearing Beats headphones. Please.
Tired of Roger Goodell.
Tired of the time investment I make. I only have so much time left on this planet. Not for this. Not anymore.
Tired of networks promoting television shows I will never watch during games
Tired of commercials aired during games that appeal to the lowest common denominators of society.
Tired of Anheuser Busch and Miller beer ads.
Tired of Papa John and all Peyton Manning commercials.
Tired of ESPN and their commentators who do nothing but shout and provide no real nuance to the events of the game.
Tired of ownership that holds cities and states hostage to their greed to win tax abatements and public financing of their stadiums
Tired of watching men cut their lives short, willingly or not, for my entertainment.

Not going to be a person who asks on social media why people still watch this game or judges those who do, but I’m going to do my damndest to keep away from it. How it goes, November, October will tell. Maybe by then I will be able to find better things to do with my time.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Take care of those who are there, not those who did not show

We buried my Aunt today. It was a very fine service that had fewer glitches than the last Catholic mass I attended. Her viewing on Friday was sparsely attended, the storm that brought a lot of snow to Long Island on Friday kept a lot of people away.

It's getting tiresome only seeing family at funerals, so we have to so something about that. I am putting a moratorium out there right now.

Nobody I know dies for two years. Got it?

I spent a good part of Thursday in her apartment. Gathering pictures for the photo board at her wake. There were hundreds of pictures to assess, so many people I did not know, so many family members I do not recognize - and now there does not seem to be anyone left who can identify them.

This is very sad to me. I cannot take charge of all the pictures and I do not know who will want them. As a cataloger it makes me cringe. I did find a lot of cool pictures for the board, and for my own research. It was unsettling being in her empty home, knowing she was not coming back. My Brother is in charge of her estate and I can't travel back and forth to help clear her possessions out. His work is cut out for him on so many levels. He did a fine job in arranging her services.

What I did find in her apartment was rather remarkable. My Great Uncle's wallet that he had when he was killed in WW2, along with a stack of letters he wrote to my Grandfather. I have not even begun to process these yet and have no idea what to expect. I am also in possession of his Purple Heart, which I had never seen until today. She saved so many things from her life and career. It got so overwhelming I had to get out and walk around the upper west side for an hour or so. Ok, I stopped in a cool Irish bar that had a bartender with a splendid brogue and one hand.

At the end of the day I had a bag of framed pictures in one arm and my satchel full of pictures, paperwork and a binder of family genealogy she had done twenty years ago. There is so much to organize.

It was good to meet a lot of my Aunt's friends. Been hearing about them for years but never met them until this sad day. She was loved, admired and held in high esteem by those close to her. She did live a full life, but the last years, too darn cruel.