Frou-Frou Food and Drink

People who know me will acknowledge the fact that I am a “simple” person. No, I’m not talking about mentally, although there might be some truth to that as well. Simple in this case means I live a rather common, day-to-day life that is void of extravagance. On those occasions when I do attend more upscale events than drinking a beer and eating wings with the boys, my attention is drawn to the things that are out of kilter with my normal life.

At a recent dinner for a non-profit organization close to Amy’s and my heart, I discovered how out of touch I am. The room in which the restaurant seated us had one wall of shelves filled with wine bottles. A few other bottles were open for guests as they arrived. What I didn’t find was a single bottle of beer. So, after a hasty retreat, I arrived at the main bar and ordered up a Miller Lite. The bartender asked if I wanted it in a glass, and I answered with a “no.”

Other guests in the room held stemmed wine glasses. My blue-labeled beer bottle stuck out like a sore thumb. It also shouted “redneck,” a possibly accurate description of the person holding the bottle. Amy was understanding about my beer toting because she knows I don’t do wine.
One of the attractions of the affair centered on a woman who is an expert in the field of wines. Our menu listed a different one for each course of the meal. This aficionado presented each wine and discussed the grapes peculiar to the drink, as well as the bouquet, place of origin, and other trivia. After one pronouncement about French wine and Oregon wine, a person seated at our table looked up and, with seriousness registered on his face, commented, “Who knew?” A smile crossed his face and the rest of us laughed too loud. It was more information than any of us cared to know. That was especially true for a beer-swigging guy like me.

In my high school and college years, on occasion I did sip the fruit of the vine. It came in a bottle with a screw-on lid. Boone’s Farm was the name, and instead of a good year, I looked to see what month the stuff had been made. On too many occasions, I drank too much and woke the next day with a mule kicking the inside of my skull. That’s enough make me swear off the stuff for good.

The meal was okay. I know I’m supposed to say that the food was excellent at such a fined restaurant, but hey, my favorite meal is a hamburger steak, mashed potatoes, and green peas.

The waiter set in front of me a piece of prime rib. I swear it kicked twice and quivered once right there on the plate. Immediately, I told him, “I can’t eat this. It’s too rare.” The guy looked at me and smiled but made no move. I suppose he’d never heard anyone speak ill about the restaurant’s food. I sat just as still and looked at him, waiting to see who blinked first. The man sitting beside me solved the problem by telling us he would exchange his cut for mine. I’m glad he did or I’d have had stopped at Krystal for a bagful of sliders on the way home. At least they’re cooked.

Amy requested that I wear a tie and coat for the occasion, and for her I’d do anything. I don’t wear a tie more than a half dozen times a year. The entire night my neck chafed from a shirt collar and tie pressing too tightly against my skin. Wearing a tie also makes a meal less enjoyable. Acid reflux already makes swallowing difficult, and the tie only exacerbates the problem. Yep, I’d rather wear a t-shirt for meals, and I’ll even put on a clean one if it’s required.

We returned home at about 10:00 p.m. For us, that’s late, so I hurried to my closet and changed back into a comfortable pair of sweat pants. The best parts of the evening were the laughter that I shared with those good people at the table and the time with Amy. As we rode home, part of our discussion touched on the next night’s supper. We decided on either Papa Murphy’s pizza or hotdogs and chili. The food suits me better and either “entrĂ©e” goes will with Miller Lite.

They Don't Care

I’ve had it! I’m fed up to my receding hairline with the politics

that are being played at the expense of this country’s economic stability, not to mention survival of millions of Americans.
Right now, the jobless rate is stuck at 9.1%. That doesn’t include all those folks who have quit searching for employment. If they were included, the rate would skyrocketed. People have lost their jobs and homes. Now, some who lost their homes had bitten off more than they could chew because they tried to buy too much house with too little paycheck. Still, others, such as laid-off teachers, simply can’t meet their mortgage payments any longer. In this case, the stands from politicos both locally and nationally in support of education are nothing more than posturing when at the same time they yammer deep cuts to school budgets are being inflicted.
Our country has been in a nasty funk since 2008. The economy tanked, as did those of other countries across the globe. Part of our problem was debt. However, let’s be clear about one thing: a huge hunk of this debt is the result of a ten year “war” that has sucked the life bloods from soldiers and the economy. So, those ultra-conservatives who decry all the spending should decide if they’re in favor of suspending the war and bringing our troops home. Hmm, maybe that’s not such a bad idea since no end to the fracas is in sight.
The voting public is a fickle bunch. On the one hand, they’ve given President Obama a 44% approval rating, and a whopping 74.7% of those asked are unhappy with the direction of the country. However, 63% of those surveyed approve of the jobs program the president presented to Congress, who mostly along party lines, killed help for the middle class. At the same time, 64% agree the wealthiest citizens and corporations should take on the largest portions of the tax burden.
Congress has no intentions of setting aside differences so that the needs of the country can be addressed. The most liberal members demand that more money be spent, even though the nation can’t afford it. On the other side, the Tea Party representatives are against everything, and they would rather shut down the country than compromise. In either case, not much leadership is being shown.
It’s time to clean house. In case you haven’t noticed, they don’t care. The politicians are playing games with our country and its well being. Their actions remind me of little kids who get mad and won’t talk to each other. Of course, with grown-ups, spiteful actions accompany ill feelings. Ideologues are more interested in principle than reality. The rest of us can “go to hell in a hand basket” as far as they are concerned.
The US has plenty of problems, and all of us can share in the blame. The point is that we can get out from under the bad times, but only if we work together. The time for bickering is over. From now on, any public servant who chooses to stand in the way of recovery should be sent home where he or she can answer to the folks who vote.
If we don’t get our house in order, this country will continue its slide from a shining beacon on the hill to forty watt bulb that barely lights a single room. Politics should have no place in the rescue of America. Tell the morons in Washington to get out of the way of recovery or get run over.

Steve Jobs and Others Pass

The “Today Show” began the other morning with almost eerie music. At the same time a picture of Steve Jobs appeared. The CEO of Apple died the day before. It was a sad time in some ways, but in other ways, the whole thing aggravated me. Yes, Steve Jobs changed the American culture, perhaps, more than any other modern day individual. After all, the brand name Apple rolls off the tongues of most everyone in this country. More astonishing, millions of us have iPods, iPads, and iPhones. They are the toys that most intrigue us, and for years we’ve paid out loads of cash to obtain them. I ordered my first iPhone yesterday after I dropped my Blackberry and shattered the screen. I wanted this new phone because it is much like the iPod I already own and has to be easier to use than the cursed phone with tiny buttons and an unfriendly roller. Jobs also offered thousands, maybe millions, employment. Not only are 47,000 workers at the Apple Corporation receiving paychecks but untold numbers also make livings by selling those products from the company. Even in tough economic times, millions of Apple products are sold, and because of the iPod, a whole new business exploded with the beginnings of iTunes. Jobs sent shockwaves through the educational world by proving that college isn’t necessarily the answer for every individual. He dropped out and then began building empires at Apple and Pixar, and at the time of his death, his total wealth is estimated to be $7 billion. He showed us all that drive, raw intelligence, and creativity can be developed outside the classroom. Thinking of life without such a great mind might make us wonder if new gadgets the same quality of those at Apple will be forthcoming. Who will pick up the slack? The answer is that this country produces plenty of geniuses, and surely one can be every bit as successful as Jobs. It must have been a slow news day for the networks. How else can the coverage of Jobs’ death be explained. Usually, somber music playing as photo of an individual, along with birth and death dates, fill the screen is reserved for national leaders. However, when the “Today” show began, Jobs’ face appeared and Matt Lauer spoke in an almost worshipping tone. I get the importance of the man’s passing, but was such a fuss justified? The fact is that approximately 70,000 people die each day. They succumb to various diseases, accidents, or wars. They leave families in pain, and many times those who are left behind have little or no financial support on which to live, not to mention to bury the deceased. The news never mentions the vast majority of those who have died unless they have done so at the hands of murderers or in high profile accidents. No, most of us who pass do so quietly. We aren’t mourned by the world, nor are we recognized by the media for our contributions to this world during our time here. Jobs’ passing is a loss for all of us. So are the deaths of all who are on this earth. All persons are products of a creator, and as such, they are special. We lose a piece of God each time an individual passes. The point is that no one, not Steve Jobs, not Elvis, not Abraham Lincoln, is more precious than another. We all stand on equal footing as children of the same father. So, no one’s passing should be deemed more of a loss than others. The fault for this isn’t Jobs’. It’s the way business sell papers or air television shows.

Women "Manning" Up

Sitting in the waiting area of the surgery center in Oak Ridge, I watched a young couple across the lobby. Again, the differences in men and women zoomed into view, this time in the ways they approach business-like events.

At first, I didn’t realize the woman was accompanied by her partner since he was camped in the restroom. I tried the door to find it locked, and the ol’ boy took care of his business for no less than twenty-five minutes. Now, I believe that a person needs his space and privacy for some tasks, but not even I take that long in a restroom.

When he finally exited the facility, he ambled across the waiting area and dropped himself exhausted into a chair beside the young woman. He was so spent from his restroom venture that sitting up straight was out of the question. Instead, the young man half reclined and rested his shoulder on the arm of the adjacent chair. For the next half hour or more, he craned his neck to watch “Today.” A couple of times he nudged the girl with his elbow to make sure she heard what Matt Lauer said. Then he grunted in agreement to another comment. I’m not sure the guy could have made an important decision or performed a single task.

The woman sat with a small child, and I overheard her tell a nurse that the baby was fifteen days old. The surgery center isn’t necessarily the healthiest place for a newborn, but she must have not had anyone to baby-sit. She loaded up the child, carrier, purse, and some machine and moved to a room for a consultation. Again, I overheard the staff tell her that a second child who was having some kind of surgery would definitely experience pain and that the prescriptions should be filled as soon as possible.

She returned to her chair and retrieved a bottle to feed the infant. As she cradled and fed the little one, this young woman studied the scripts the nurse had handed her, and then with care filed them away in her purse. She would be responsible for having them filled, although her partner might drive her to the drugstore and sit in the car while she did so.

The couple later walked to a room where the second child lay. This little girl moaned and cried with pain. Nurses worked to make her comfortable, and the mom pitched in to help. The dad, however, sat on the foot of the bed and did nothing but make himself a nuisance. However, he never made a move to get out of the way, and I saw the woman glare at him a couple of times with a look of total disgust.

The entire scene reminded me of the many times I’ve failed to “man up” and take charge of situations. Amy assumed the mature person role and handled everything while I sat like an inanimate lump that was incapable of thinking. When she finished business, I followed her out the door like a third child.

My observations over the years convince me that, in general, most men act this way. We are either oblivious to what goes on around us or we are too lazy or immature to care. No matter, we, the beings that are stronger and larger, take one step back to allow the so-called “weaker sex” the room necessary to solve problems. It’s for sure that our family and its financial well being and health would have failed had it not been for the meticulous and logical actions of Amy.

When she awoke from the surgical procedure, I gave her a kiss, a hug, and a “thank you.” I even took charge and waited on her when she arrived home. I managed to have prescriptions filled without any help. Women have been “manning up” for a long time. Maybe it’s time we males did so a little more often. We’ll definitely look better to our wives and to others who might observe our actions.