Red Cones In The Morning

IMG_2460Red cones in the morning, North of Woods take warning!

Well, that’s not quite a saying, but whenever you see red cones across the streets in our North of Woods neighborhood on a weekend morning, you know there’s another walking, running, or biking event going on in New Albany.  Today, it’s part of the Challenge New Albany series and is a triathlon competition, so on our walk today Kasey and I saw lots of runners and bikers — and even the full complement of the New Albany Mounted Patrol, which was out in full force.

Having our streets blocked regularly is a pain, but I’ve grown reconciled to it over the years.  Our neighborhood is one of the most centrally located in New Albany, within easy walking distance of the “downtown” Market Street area and the golf course.  Traffic detours and red cones now and then are just part of the price we pay for being close to the library and the post office, and we wouldn’t trade that proximity for anything.

Red Plate, Blue Plate

IMG_2457Kish was on the road today, so I continued Food Truck Summer with the assistance of the Jersey Girl and the Origamist, who was making her first visit to Dinin’ Hall today.  There we found a food truck I haven’t tried before:  Red Plate, Blue Plate, which specializes in what they call Southern Coastal Cuisine.

Was it good?  Let’s just say that if this food is what they really serve on the southern coastline, I know where I’m heading on our next vacation.

JG and I got the shrimp and grits — cheesy grits topped with onions, mushrooms, celery, and nice, plump, juicy grilled shrimp.  Boy, was it succulent, and served nice and hot.  Fortunately for JG and me, we were given a plastic spoon to eat it with, because we snarfed it down so quickly if we had been given a metal knife and fork we probably would have set the place on fire from the sparks.  This dish was super-flavorful and cheesy (that is, cheesy in a good way).  I’m not sure, but I think I beat JG in our race to be the first to reach the bottom of our plates — and when it was done I was sad there was no more.

The Origamist decided on the Charleston, a sandwich made of very delicately fried shrimp, fixins, and special sauce on a roll served with barbecue chips.  It looked so good I had to restrain myself from knocking her to the ground, grabbing her plate, and sprinting into the distance to eat the sandwich.  When deciding what to order, the Origamist asked if the sauce was hot, and the proprietor responded, with a twinkle in his eye, that his food is not about heat or spice, but about taste.  Touche!  He’s right, too.

One Band Member’s View

Every Ohio State graduate I know is proud of the Ohio State University Marching Band — which any true Buckeye knows as The Best Damn Band In The Land.  That’s why the recent report about TBDBITL, and the dismissal of band director Jonathan Waters, is very hard news to take for the members of Buckeye Nation.

One of my friends is father to a daughter, Jocelyn Smallwood, who played Sousaphone in TBDBITL and dotted the i in Script Ohio during the Michigan game — an incredible accomplishment I wrote about in this blog several years ago.  She loves the band and respects Mr. Waters — and she also happens to be mentioned in the report because her band nickname is “Donk.”

Jocelyn offers a different view on the recent report and the dismissal decision.  If you’re interested in seeing what one band member has to say about the issues, you can find Jocelyn’s thoughts here.

The Fantastic Two-Dog Complete Morning Workout

Mr. and Mrs. America, are you tired? 

Are you tired of being overweight and out of shape?  Are you tired of buying expensive rowing machines, treadmills, and stairsteppers that now just gather dust in your bedrooms and basements?  Are you tired of solitary workouts that simulate some form of martial arts and are performed to stupid music ?  Are you tired of lurching from exercise fad to exercise fad like a young child who can’t make up his mind about which toy he really wants at Christmas?

DSC04139In short, are you yearning for an exercise regimen that doesn’t require cumbersome machinery, will produce results, provide companionship, add years to your life, and require the kind of disciplined, long-term commitment to exercise that you know is the only way to produce meaningful fitness results?

Let me introduce you to the Fantastic Two-Dog Complete Morning Workout!  It’s all described in this easy-to-read book, The Fantastic Two-Dog Complete Morning Workout.

You start by acquiring two dogs.  We’ve all read the studies that show that people who have a canine companion live longer.  Imagine what having two dogs will do for your life span!  But here is where the science of the Fantastic Two-Dog Complete Morning Workout comes in — because the scientific choice of the two dogs will make your exercise regimen even more meaningful. 

You don’t want two dogs of the same breed, or disposition.  No, Mr. and Mrs. America, you want two dogs that are as different as day and night.  One should be small, shifty, always surging ahead, and completely untrustworthy when it comes to bowel and bladder discharges.  The other should be a heavy, stubborn, slow-moving load.  Let our book help you make the right choice!

Then, when you’ve acquired the dogs, feed them.  This is a crucial step in the Fantastic Two-Dog Complete Morning Workout plan, because we all know the end result that inevitably occurs when dogs are fed.  That’s right — it means you need to walk those dogs and pick up their poop.  And that’s where the sheer magic of the Fantastic Two-Dog Complete Morning Workout really happens, because the process of walking two radically different dogs and picking up, bagging, and tying off their poop combines every known form of exercise in one fantastic workout!

DSC04130You’ll get the benefits of walking — but at the same time you’ll be pulled in two directions by your tail-wagging friends.  You’ll work the upper body by relentlessly pulling the stubborn, overweight dog on the walk, restraining the energetic dog that wants to run away, then holding back both dogs as they suddenly start lunging and barking at any strange dog that crosses your path.  You’ll also work on your balance, develop ballerina-like grace, and improve your eye-hand coordination as you learn to avoid leash entanglement by dogs that suddenly veer in unpredictable directions and you must spin and transfer leashes from hand to hand behind your back, often also juggling filled poop bags in the process.

Speaking of poop:  your midsection gets a workout from constantly having to bend at the waist to pick up the droppings, and trying to do it as quickly as possibly before the unforgettable odor is permanently embedded in your nostrils.  Then work those fine motor skills by tying off the poop bag as you continue to walk dogs that are never as fast moving as they are immediately after they’ve taken a dump and want to promptly evacuate the tainted area.

And finally, feel the adrenalin surge when the stubborn, overweight dog makes a dead stop at random points during the walk, almost wrenching your shoulder out of its socket and requiring you to pull her forward.  Feel the blood rush scour every scrap of plaque and cholesterol from your veins when your dogs embarrass you by misbehaving when other well-trained dogs walk by.

And know, all the while, that you’ll be doing the Fantastic Two-Dog Complete Morning Workout for every morning, rain or shine, brutally cold or blastingly hot, for as long as your two devoted companions share your little corner of the world.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  You can get the Fantastic Two-Dog Complete Morning Workout book for only $29.95, a 50 percent discount from our normal price.  Operators are standing by!  Call now, and we’ll throw in, completely free, two sturdy dog leashes and a pack of 50 dog poop bags stamped with the Fantastic Two-Dog Complete Morning Workout so that you’ll think of this great product every time you bend over to do your duty.  Feel the burn!

Black Radish Creamery

IMG_2448The California Girl has been back in Ohio for less than two weeks, and already she’s become mildly addicted to the jams and preserves prepared by Black Radish Creamery, a local central Ohio outfit that Kish and I discovered recently at the New Albany Farmer’s Market. 

Two weeks ago we bought several of the Black Radish concoctions in anticipation of the California Girl’s visit with the California Guy.  We grilled out the night of their arrival and prepared chicken on skewers glazed with the Black Radish peach preserves, and it was a hit.  But the California Girl particularly relishes the King B, a combination of black raspberries, cane sugar, organic lemon juice, lemon zest, sea salt, and vanilla bean.  Needless to say, it (like the California Girl herself) rocks.

The California Girl is leaving this weekend, and charged me with the mission of going to tonight’s Farmers’ Market and picking up a few more jars of the King B while she and Kish are off visiting their cousin and The Ultimate Cheapskate.  So the Farmers’ Market is where I found myself an hour or so ago, trying to control two straining, surging, misbehaving dogs while I fished out my wallet and bought some more of the fresh, fruity goodness in a jar.

Mission accomplished, California Girl!  The King B awaits your return, and I hope you take it back to the West Coast and give your Golden State buddies a taste of what Ohio has to offer.

The Secretary Of State’s Security Screening

On Tuesday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in the Middle East trying to arrange for a cease-fire in the Israeli-Palestinian fighting in Gaza, met with the Egyptian President.  Prior to the meeting, Kerry’s aides had to go through a metal detector, and Kerry himself was scanned with a security wand.

Reuters reports that such a security screening of a high-ranking U.S. official is “unusual.”  I’d say it’s unprecedented.  I cannot remember any instance where the American Secretary of State was screened, or wanded down, prior to meeting with a foreign dignitary.  And, it’s hard not to feel a certain sense of schadenfreude at seeing a guy who is usually ushered from meeting to meeting by limo and subject to elaborate courtesies have to undergo a security scan like the rest of the masses. 

Obviously, though, there’s a more important issue at work here.  We know the Middle East is a place where symbolism is important and people are deeply sensitive to perceived slights; showing the sole of your shoe can be viewed as a deadly insult.  I’m confident that the security screening was an intentional effort to send a message; no one could reasonably believe that the Secretary of State was packing heat or posed a security threat.  The message therefore has to be that the Egyptian government doesn’t view representatives of the American government as needing special treatment, and they wanted Kerry and his aides to understand that new reality in a very tangible, personal way.  With the incident being widely reported, and with the groupthink mentality at play in the Middle East, the Egyptian view may well be shared by other governments in the region, too. 

If American diplomats are treated like security threats by governments in countries that we hope will help to keep the peace in that deeply troubled region and American power and influence in the Middle East in fact is waning, it is bad news for America and bad news for the world. 

Pastor Andrew’s Thank-You To LeBron

I’ve mentioned our nephew Andrew Kishman before.  He is the pastor of the Miller Avenue United Church of Christ in Akron, in a neighborhood that has fallen on very tough times.  Helping the people — of all faiths — who live in that decayed, dangerous place is a tough challenge, but it is a challenge that Andrew is willing to tackle.  Our whole family is proud of him.

IMG_2269This morning Andrew wrote a wonderful piece about his thoughts on the decision of LeBron James to return to his roots.  It’s an interesting take that you’ve probably not seen elsewhere, because it is written from the perspective of someone who struggles every day to give hope to kids whose situations seem hopeless.  Andrew thinks that this famous athlete’s recognition of the pull of the community from whence he came, and his interest in giving back to that community in the way that only athletes can, might just provide that hope.

I think it’s nice of Andrew to thank LeBron — but I also think it would be nice for LeBron, and others, to thank people like Andrew.