high-minded drivel

high-minded (adjective) - refined; cultured; particularly civilized. drivel (noun) - senseless talk; nonsense.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Getting back to basics

Heading up to Michigan State tomorrow to see Eric and Rakhi.  We're planning to do some wilderness camping over the weekend, by which I mean setting up a tent in Rakhi's backyard.  Yes, just like you used to do as kids.  Jealous?  Actually, we did look at some campsites in the general vicinity, but were unable to find a spot at any, so the next best option is a more localized area of woods.  What's that?  How are we going to build the traditional campfire if it's not a true campsite?  Silly reader.  Haven't you ever heard of a dumpster fire?  Sure, you have to sort of climb up on the sides to reach in and toast your marshmallows, but otherwise the experience is no different.  You've got the stars overhead, you've got raccoons scampering about (jumping out of the dumpster that's just caught on fire), and that feeling of pure bliss that can only come from communing with Nature.  You know, Nature?  Na-too-ray?  The foreign exchange student next door?

About a year ago I purchased a tent at Aldi in anticipation of just this sort of occasion.  I'd been camping many times before, but mostly when I was younger with my family, or in college as part of an organized trip where all equipment was provided, so I didn't have a tent of my own.  When I saw the tent at Aldi I thought to myself "I like camping, and at some point I know that I'll go camping with friends, so it would be a good idea to purchase this tent now and have it for when I eventually need it."  The Aldi tent was especially appealing in that, like everything else at Aldi, it was at a bargain price.  The cost-benefit analysis was simple: Even if the tent was used sparingly, it would be totally worth it.  The only way it wouldn't be worth it is if it basically fell apart immediately.  Given this possibility, I harnessed the power of the internet and did a little research prior to actually making the purchase.  Seeing no negative comments, I bought the tent.  It's a wonderful thing, stimulating the economy!

With the arrival of an appropriate time to use the tent, I got it out to set it up in the back yard.  Obviously you don't want to be setting up your tent for the first time when you're already out in the wilderness, or even worse, standing in the back alley next to the burning dumpster.  So I got out the tent and began assembling.  Things were going along splendidly until suddenly one of the pole sections snapped.  Argh.  The poles were clearly not made of the strongest material (perhaps compressed dust?), but c'mon, the first time?!  Fortunately, the pole section snapped right near the top where it connects to the preceding pole section.  Upon Nate's excellent advice, I cut off the offending section and was able to slide the remaining pole section up into the preceding section, resulting in an only slightly shorter pole overall.  Experiencing no other setbacks, I had the simple dome frame up in no time!  There's something extremely gratifying about a quick, well-executed tent setup.  It's sort of like a badge of honor, an important manly competency, like being able to start a fire or parallel park.  I think a few more hairs sprouted on my chest after I had admired my work for a few moments and was "breaking camp."

The weekend should be nice because we're at a point in the quarter right now where midterms have passed and end-of-term projects are not yet coming due, so there won't be any reading or homework to worry about.  In class yesterday we were talking about CitiStat, the performance management system for city government first implemented in Baltimore and modeled on the NYPD's CompStat system.  If you're not familiar with CitiStat, and don't want to click on the convenient link I've provided, just know that it is a system where the various department heads in the city government provide regular updates to the mayor and his team about the activity of their respective departments.  But it's not just about reporting activity, it's about demonstrating progress and results.  City employees are truly held accountable for their work, so they'd better come prepared to the CitiStat sessions and they better have been getting some shit done since their last CitiStat session.  Although it will sound gushy, I'll say that it's inspiring to see people engaged in their work.  Must be the legitimate HR professional that's buried deep inside of me.  One thing you learn in organizations, although people don't often apply it, is that employees like being held accountable, for the most part.  It gives a sense of responsibility, a sense of purpose, a sense of accomplishment.  Having watched some videos of CitiStat in class, I would think that it must feel really good to a department head if they come out of their CitiStat session knowing that they've demonstrated results and been able to answer the questions posed.  All of this is getting around to a short anecdote about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles underwear.

Like many other youngsters, I had several pairs of TMNT underwear (as well as Peanuts and Smurfs underwear).  Also like many other youngsters, I enjoyed playing outside with friends.  Well, one day some neighborhood friends came knocking, either Nate or Mom answered the door, and they announced that some friends had come to play, causing me to dash wildly from my room and burst out the door, rearing to go.  The thing is, in my enthusiasm I had failed to notice that I wasn't wearing any pants.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for the ladies! heh heh heh.....yow!) I was wearing my TMNT underwear, and it was just about getting to that point in life when you should really not wear your TMNT underwear anymore.  I was 13 at the time.  That is a joke.  I was much younger, but I ran with an older crowd, having earned the respect of the older guys through brawling and heavy drinking.  That is also a joke.  What is not a joke is that all the other guys had stopped wearing their TMNT underwear, so I perhaps looked a bit silly.

The point is this: Watching CitiStat yesterday, I thought "This kind of thing would get me excited about going to work!"  Genuinely excited.  And how do I gauge excitement?  Well, thinking back on my childhood memory I realized that the highest point on my personal scale of excitement is when something gets me so excited that I burst out the door with such enthusiasm that I don't even notice I'm not wearing pants.  That's the standard by which all else is judged.  A CitiStat environment at work might actually get a pretty good rating on the scale, although it still wouldn't be close to the summit. Maybe someday I'll get there.  There's always hope.  Hope of showing up at work wearing nothing but underwear featuring cartoon characters.  Sexual harassment allegations be damned.

Obviously Krang's android body is excited about going to work.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

KILL THE SQUID!!!! (but don't eat it)

This evening represents the closing moments of Vegan Challenge 2010.  Just moments ago the chair of the Vegan Challenge Committee issued his standard call to the children of the world to gather together again for the next Vegan Challenge, and now we are in the midst of an odd, choreographed, colorful ceremony featuring multi-cultural actors and actresses dressed up in what appears to be Tofurky costumes.  I feel that I'm missing the subtle (but important) messages of brotherhood contained within the interpretive dance currently on display, so it seems like an appropriate time to make a post with my own closing thoughts (take-aways, if you will), from VC 2010.

First, eating vegan doesn't really create some overwhelming longing for meat.  It's just hard because you have significantly less options at restaurants, and you have to do more planning to create a menu of "acceptable" meals.  Yesterday Sayak and I were out and about, and we decided to stop in at Bob Evans for a quick breakfast, primarily because it was the only restaurant in the immediate vicinity.  After conducting an in-depth study of the menu, we both settled on (that is, we were both forced to the default option of) toast and potatoes.  Needless to say, I don't think there are many vegans "down on the farm."

Second, veganism is a good conversation topic.  People generally seem rather interested when you make such a "lifestyle change" as deciding to eat vegan.  It prompts questions such as "How's the veganism going?" and "What are you eating?" and "Just how hungry are you?"  I expect the interest dies off quickly though, and novelty becomes nuisance.  You know, like when people want to go for lunch, and you're like "Sure!" and then people are like "Oh gawd, Jay's coming.  Looks like we're going to Asparagus Modern Bistro again.  Eff.  I was really feeling a Homestead Breakfast at Bob Evans with extra sausage patties."

Thirdly.......well......I guess I don't really have anything else to say.  I pretty much summed it up already.

The only time over the two weeks when there was really a temptation to "cheat" was tonight.  Getting close to the finish line, wanting to go to a coffee shop to blog, but being a real American fat-ass and wanting a cookie to enjoy while blogging, and realizing that the coffee places nearby had nothing vegan, I almost had a moment of weakness.  I knew that some places were still open that served Pattycake Bakery items (which are clutch when you're a vegan, by the way), but it would require driving to get to them, which didn't jive with my desire to walk.  It was this dilemma: Do I break down and have a non-vegan cookie for the sake of getting exercise and not polluting the environment by driving, or do I drive and maintain my integrity as a two-week vegan, even if it is almost over?"  Two lifestyle choices that seem to go together were suddenly at odds.  In the end it seemed better to maintain vegan integrity, realizing that these are the types of challenges vegans must face every day, and to have the full experience as a vegan I too needed to experience these challenges.  Fortunately, just in time I remembered a place that served Pattycake items that was also within walking distance.  Triumph!  Jubilant, with my old faded backpack slung over my shoulder, I began walking (barefoot, naturally) to the coffee shop to get my vegan cookie.  To complete the image I quickly attached some dreadlock hair extensions and lit up a nice fatty for the walk.

This morning, after the rain had stopped, I decided to take my car for a wash.  Luck was with me in that I stopped at a car wash I hadn't been to before and discovered that they gave four minutes for only $1.25!  All others that I've been to give only three minutes for $1.50, so this was clearly a monumental find.  The sudsy brush was a bit sub-par, but it still did the job (seriously, how much differentiation can there be between big brushes that spew soapy foam?).  At these do-it-yourself car washes I've only ever used the pre-soak, foaming brush, and rinse options.  The other possibilities remain in a shroud of mystery.  In fact, I couldn't even tell you what all the other settings are, because they are completely ignored.  I think they include things like wax, tire cleaner, spot-free rinse, shampoo, cologne, shave, and close shave.  I don't know.  The point is this: I don't use the other settings, so I don't need them.  What I would like to see is different options for what you actually hold in your hands.  Every car wash just has the sprayer and the foaming brush.  Why?  Because they satisfy all car washing needs?  Pshaw.  Fact: The car wash would be far more fun if you had the option of hoisting a bazooka attachment onto your shoulder or climbing behind one of these babies:

So there's still a lot of room for innovation in the do-it-yourself car wash.  Stay-in-your-car washes, on the other hand, are an entirely different animal, with entirely different methods for cleaning your vehicle.  In these types of washes, it seems that the primary method for removing dirt is to repeatedly slap your car with strips of rubber.  I've never quite figured out how this is effective, and I actually suspect that it's just for show.  You know, the initial rinse gets most of the dirt off, and obviously the dryers get the water off at the end, but car wash makers knew that people wouldn't feel like they were getting their money's worth if they left it at that, so they inserted the slapping rubber strips in the middle of the process to jazz things up a bit.  I'm not complaining though, because the slapping rubber strips have a special place in my memory.  As a child I remember going to a friend's house, and his mom was driving us around and decided to stop to get the car washed.  Being kids, and apparently familiar with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at that point, we pretended that the slapping rubber strips were a giant octopus trying to stop our Ford Nautilus.  It was quite an experience, and we barely made it.  Even to this day, when going through a stay-in-your-car wash I find myself whispering softly, "Nemo.....Nemo....."

Speaking of cleaning things, last week I determined that my dress pants could do with a brush up, so I dropped them off at the local dry cleaner.  If you hate doing laundry as much as I do, there is something immensely satisfying about dropping off your clothes at the dry cleaner and picking them up a few days later.  When asked what they would do if they won the lottery, many people say that they'd get a boat, or a house, or something like that.  Not me.  I'd just dry clean all my clothes, every week.  You may say "Why not just hire someone to clean your clothes in your house, moron?"  To which I say "Because if I did that then I couldn't get my valued customer card punched every time, earning me a free cleaning after every 10 items."  The one thing I don't like about the dry cleaner's is that they give you new hangers for your clothes every time.  They don't want you to bring your own hangers, probably because it's easier for them to just use new ones, and this aspect of the process seems wasteful to me.  But who am I to argue about their process?  To be honest, the whole concept of "dry cleaning" doesn't make a lot of sense to me anyway.  You know, how can you clean something but keep it dry?  Crazy.  I'll have to do some research on this topic to educate myself.  I wouldn't be surprised at all to find that slapping rubber strips are a key element of the process.    


Early promotional photo for Asparagus Modern Bistro

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Talkin' 'bout hygeine

It's been a busy couple days, particularly keeping up with school and getting a paper done for tomorrow.  But now I've got some time to sit back and engage in some good ole (well, new) HMD.  Typing out papers isn't really that difficult.  In fact, it can be rather gratifying at times as insights come to you in the course of writing.  But if there's one thing I cringe at, it's references.  You could call it a pet peeve of mine.  No, I'm not advocating plagiarism.  It's just that all the "properness" associated with citing sources is aggravating. Is it a comma or a period after the title of the article?  Do you use the full web address of the specific page or just the address for the main page?  What do you mean I can't cite Wikipedia?  What do you mean you saw me updating Wikipedia just so I could cite it in my paper for my own purposes?

And just for the record, there's something plain wrong about Helen Keller being accused of plagiarism.

Also for the record, if you'd like to cite my blog in a paper, please make sure it's in AP style, thanks.

Today was my six-month regular teeth-cleaning at the dentist.  Generally this is a good experience, although I've never really liked the gritty toothpaste they use on the whirring brush.  Obviously it does the job, but getting the gritty toothpaste between your teeth is not pleasant.  Today it occurred to me that the only flavors of toothpaste I've ever been offered are mint, cherry, and bubble gum.  Clearly the makers of toothpaste for dentists' offices are not concerned with mixing up the flavors.  If you're a celebrity, do you get more choices?  Does Tom Hanks get to pick from flavors like mango and orange creamsicle?  Another thing that has never changed about the dentist's office is that no matter how old you are they ask you what color toothbrush you'd like.  Is this a big deal for people?  Is there some 50-year old executive that's like "Oooh!  Oooh!  Gimme red!"  I guess the color of the toothbrush could be important if you don't want the same color as your significant other.  But who knows what color their significant other's toothbrush is?  Who knows the color of their own toothbrush?  If you said "I do," then the truth is not in you.

For the record, I was feeling like a blue toothbrush today.  And mint toothpaste.

In the days leading up to today's dental check-up I faced the age-old dilemma of whether to "brush up" or just let it go.  You know the question I'm sure.  Do you make sure to brush your teeth extra well in the day or two before your dentist visit so that you look good, or do you say "screw it, my teeth are getting cleaned anyway" and just let it go?  At the very least I'll brush well the day before and the day-of.  But maybe this isn't logical.  I mean, if my teeth are going to get cleaned the best they've been cleaned in six months, then why not get my money's worth?  Maybe instead of brushing up I should grime up.  That make's good sense, right?  Right?  Hey where are you going?

Since I go to the dentist's office straight from work I typically haven't brushed after lunch, so I just chew some gum.  Right now I'm working on a pack of "5" gum.  Flavor: Cobalt (aka "blue" flavor).  Funny thing about 5 Cobalt gum - the flavor lasts too long!  Crazy, I know.  The readily accepted wisdom is that gum with longer-lasting flavor is better, but now I disagree.  You see, people only think that way because they're used to their gum losing flavor really quickly.  But with 5 Cobalt, it just keeps going!  You may say "Then just spit it out when you're tired of it, moron."  But I posit that there is some satisfaction in "chewing out the flavor" in gum.  If you spit out your gum and it hasn't lost its flavor yet, it's like you haven't really done the job.  For two days in a row at work now I've actually gotten mad at my gum.  I'm buying Juicy Fruit next time, dammit.

The great barefoot adventure continues.  There's some pain in my left knee right now that seems to have been caused by walking barefoot, so I'll have to monitor that.  The feet are fine though.  Did a couple more miles around campus the past few days with no issues, except for the other day when I looked behind me to discover I was leaving bloody red footprints on the sidewalk.  Actually, that didn't happen. But it would have been AWESOME if it did.  I always had this dream when running high school cross country that at some point, on a particularly rainy, muddy day, I'd slip going down a hill and then the runners behind me would run over my back in their spikes.  Of course I'd get up, catch them, beat them across the line, and be a heroic figure in my tattered, bloody jersey.  But the story doesn't end there!  The best part would be years later, when at a party some guys would be comparing cool scars.  Someone would be like "Here's where I slipped with a knife once!"  And another guy would be like "Here's where I slipped in a creek and cut my leg on a rock!"  And then I'd be like "Oh yea?!  Check THIS OUT!!!!!"  And I'd rip off my shirt to reveal my uber-awesome cross country spike-scarred back.  That would be cool, right?  Right?  Hey where are you going?

For the record, I've never been to a party where people compare scars.

I hate you 5!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Can't answer the phone, too busy dancing

Sitting out on the porch right now, late afternoon on Sunday.  I was out and about until around an hour ago, and as I approached home it started raining harder than I've seen it rain in a long time.  For the last quarter mile or so to home I had the wipers on high and it was still real difficult to see.  It's a rare occasion, putting the wipers on high.  The sun has come back out now, so I suppose it's the calm after the storm.  The calm before the storm gets a lot of press, but the calm after the storm is pretty nice, wouldn't you say?

The activities of the day to that point had consisted of going to the computer lab to work on a paper and seeing Inception with Nick, Jordan, Courtney, and Sayak.  Inception was quite good - kind of a mix between The Matrix and Oceans 11.  Part going down the rabbit hole and part heist pulled off by a rag-tag team.  Overall a rather excellent cast (DiCaprio is the only truly big name), including one of my favorites, Pete Postlethwaite, in a limited role.  One thing that warrants comment...

*Sort-of spoiler alert*

When they're setting up the initial dream in first class on the airline, were you surprised that one of the airline stewardesses was responsible for putting everyone to sleep?  Everyone gets hooked in, the weird briefcase thing is brought out and set down on a table, and then the airline stewardess takes her position by the briefcase to set everything in motion?  Whaaaaat?  Sure, it was just a fake airline stewardess, one of Ken Watanabe's employees, but still.  Everyone was just okay with this?  Seems like a pretty big responsibility.  Then again, airline stewardesses are all about fulfilling the needs of those on the flight.  Including setting up "the kick" apparently.

Also, I think that when things start getting a little weird at work I'm going to take a little metal top, spin it, and then stare intently at it.  You know, see if anyone catches on.

*End sort-of spoiler alert*

After the movie I realized that there had been no pre-movie message about turning off your cell phone, and I found this surprising.  Isn't that a standard part of every theater now?  Perhaps not.  Anyway, I'll probably be doing even less talking on my phone now because I've elected to pay an extra five dollars per month in exchange for 250 text messages.  Previously I had to pay for individual texts, and I found that I was texting enough that my bill would run over an extra five dollars anyway.  The reason for texting despite the cost (as opposed to just making calls) is because I absolutely loathe talking on the phone.  I've gotten used to it at work now, but starting out a few years ago the sound of the phone ringing was an even more grating sound than my alarm clock in the mornings.  It was a sound that made my stomach drop, like when someone suddenly delivers shocking news to you.  It was like a phobia.  Part of my aversion to talking on the phone probably has to do with the fact that I have difficulty hearing at times.  No concerns there with texting.  My eyes are good and my fingers are nimble.

At the lab this morning I was writing a paper for class.  Getting there relatively early on a Sunday morning, I was the only one in the lab for most of the time.  Of course, you're never really alone, because the security camera is always watching.  Sure, the person watching the security camera (or should I say the person who is supposed to be watching the security camera) is probably engaged in a game of solitaire or reading the newspaper, but still, things are recorded.  I've found over the years that a habit of mine when left alone in a room is to check all the corners of the ceiling for security cameras.  Like at a recent optometrist appointment - the person checking my eyes left the room for a few moments, and just sitting there it's kind of like "La-di-da," twiddle thumbs, scratch nose, and of course, check for security cameras.  Elevators are also a place where this frequently occurs.  Not sure why this habit has developed, but I think I'm rather clever for doing it.  You know, just letting the person monitoring the video know that I know that they're there.  In my younger days I'd do things out of order and start dancing, or have a good scratch (not my nose) or something, and then come to my senses and check for security cameras.  But now it's natural.  Check for cameras, then dance.  I'm pretty confident I could be a spy.  The instincts are all there.

You're back on the airplane, but most likely still dreaming.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

So it begins...

Trying new things is good.  When you try new things, your perspective expands, your boundaries are stretched, and you may just experience a nice buzz in the process.  That was a joke.  What is not a joke is that sometimes you just need to jump in there and do it.  Right?  Because what is life if you don't have some experiences, whatever form they may take.

The vegan thing still has full momentum at this point.  Today at Champp's I special-ordered a plate of vegetables and pasta because literally every single item on the menu had either meat or cheese in it.  Amusingly, my lunch rang up as a "kid's spaghetti."  Next time at Champp's I'll definitely be ordering the kid's spaghetti now that I know it's part of some secret, unpublished menu.  Today I also joined Facebook.  Admittedly, there is some satisfaction and excitement in seeing the friend requests and comments start popping up.  However, I feel I've been duped a bit in that people have profile pictures featuring their torso's, entire bodies, or even themselves with a friend or significant other.  When I signed up for Facebook, I was anticipating faces only.  Quality control is clearly lax in cyberspace.  

To finish off this day of trying new things, I took my first steps (literally) into the realm of barefooting.  After harnessing the power of the internet and reading up a bit (herehere, here, and here), I determined that the best way to get started would be to go without footwear on some of my regular walking trips to the grocery store and the library.  This would start to get my soles used to the feel of varying surfaces and would help ease my legs into this new form of ambulation.  Being mindful of the "no shirt, no shoes, no service" societal norm that we all learned as kids, I would carry my sandals with me and slip them on before entering the destination establishment.  Tonight a trip to the library was in order, so I set off, sandals in hand, smiling, wistful, and carefully watching the ground for broken 40's.  

Upon reaching the library I assessed the feeling of my feet.  They felt good, although a bit raw.  Some blisters had definitely developed on the one-and-a-half mile walk, but with great power comes grea......err......wait........what is it again?.......ah yes!  No pain, no gain.  Not nearly as much progress as hoped for was made on the paper I needed to write at the library (see: Facebook), so I'll be making another trek tomorrow, likely leading to the popping of the aforementioned blisters.  The tearing skin will not be fun, but eventually some calluses will form and I'll be on my way to full-fledged barefooting (or at least have a party trick of being able to walk across hot coals).

Nate actually purchased the Vibram Five Fingers recently and has said they are quite comfortable, and some would say they are a much more intelligent choice than going without any foot covering.  It's true that if the goal is to have a barefoot running style then you simply need to lose the clunky shoes and do something to simulate barefoot running, like wearing Vibrams.  Your form will change, the natural supports in your feet will be put to work, and you'll have the added bonus of not needing to worry about all the sharp things.  But there's just something pure about truly going barefoot, you know?  Why not do it the real way?  Isn't it better to go through some discomfort and develop tough, rough-and-ready feet than to just replace one artificial foot covering with another, even if the second represents some improvement?  The old men at the church we went to in East Liverpool had what could be described as gravel hands.  While passing the peace with those guys it was like shaking heavy-grit sandpaper.  (As a side note, they totally should have picked up a side business as massage therapists.  Think exfoliating back rub).  They got their gravel hands from always working outside with landscaping and masonry or doing carpentry or any manner of hands-on work.  Well, as much as I would like to have gravel hands some day, I don't think it's going to happen from typing away on soft, smooth MacBook keys like I'm doing right now.  So instead I'm shooting for a more attainable possibility: gravel feet.

I could'a used me some Vibrams in Mordor...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

If you just welcome the challenge, you may end up shocking the world

Three friends and I are currently engaged in a two-week Vegan Challenge.  The challenge, if it needs any explaining, is to eat vegan for two weeks.  I don't exactly remember what prompted this other than the fact that the topic of veganism came up over dinner at CBC (a nice, meat-filled dinner), and Jordan accused me of merely saber-rattling when I told Sayak that I bet he couldn't eat vegan for two weeks straight.  All the sodium in my meat-filled dinner contributed to a rapid rise in my blood pressure at this affront, but I quickly regained composure and stated "It's on."

This is now day four for me, Sayak, Courtney, and Jen, and from my standpoint things are going splendidly.  Here's the menu thus far:

Day 1
Breakfast: Mini-bagels with peanut butter
Lunch: Cous-cous, spinach, tomato, black olive, and oil & vinegar dressing in tortillas; Red bell pepper slices
Afternoon: Almonds
Dinner: Black bean burgers (black beans, green bell pepper, onion, chili powder, celery seed, parsley, dill, steel-cut oats, and ripped up whole wheat bread) topped with tomato, jalapeno, ketchup and mustard; Sweet potato fries (coated in olive oil and baked)

Day 2
Breakfast: Mini-bagels
Lunch: (same as yesterday)
Afternoon: Almonds
Dinner: Portobello, red onion, and red bell pepper sandwich with sweet potato fries at The Pub (accompanied by a Smithwick's and a fine Belhaven Scottish Stout)

Day 3
Breakfast: Mini-bagels
Lunch: Tomato soup at Cap City
Afternoon: Almonds
Dinner: Spinach, tomato, and black olive salad with Italian dressing and topped with sweet potato fries; Plain bagel

Day 4
Breakfast: Toast with peanut butter
Lunch: Same as Day 1 and Day 2 (I'm content to eat the same thing every day for a week - it will be the same tomorrow)
Afternoon: Almonds
Dinner: Fried eggplant breaded with panko bread crumbs (they don't contain egg or milk); Whole wheat spaghetti; Homemade tomato sauce; Multi-grain French bread

So not much variety perhaps, but this isn't really different than any other week, except there's no meat in the dinners.  The first morning I was going to put some honey on my mini-bagels, but then Nate called me out and was like "Are you allowed to do that?"  According to Wikipedia, you can eat honey and still be considered vegan, but then at The Pub on Tuesday Courtney was all like "Blah blah blah no honey they smoke out the bees blah blah blah" and so I was like "Fiiiiiine."  I think this is highly suspect.  Some say you don't even need to worry about insects because they supposedly don't feel pain or something, so why is it a problem to just take their honey?  Because they're cute and lovable?  Gawd.  Bees are like the chipmunks of the insect family.

One thing that is puzzling about veganism when you start looking at sample vegan menus online is that there are lots of fake meat products available for purchase.  For that last link, note that Day 1 features something called Mama's Mock Meatloaf.  Yikes.  That sounds like something students call the cafeteria lunch in high school.  I don't get it - if you're vegan, aren't you taking the mindset that you're not missing out by eliminating meat from your diet?  Why the demand for Tofurky (Day 2) and "Sausage" (Day 3)?  Is it for the kiddies who need to sate their carnivorous desires?  When Timmy and Becky come running downstairs in the morning and say "Mommy mommy what's for breakfast?!" and mommy says "Sausage," does she use finger-quotes?

While we're on the topic of diet and nutrition, I want to take a moment to express the huge amount of respect I have for the marketers (not the makers, unless they're the same people) of Vitamin Water.  You know how sports teams who are the underdogs in championship games but pull off the victory will frequently use the phrase "We shocked the world!" after the game?  Like in a basketball game, after the buzzer sounds the winning underdogs will run around the court, occasionally getting all up in a camera to shout "We shocked the world!!!" (the example most prominently in my mind is Khalid El-Amin after the Duke-UConn NCAA Championship game in 1999).  Well, that's what I picture the Vitamin Water people doing every day at the corporate office.  Because, you know, they took the bottled water market to the next level.  Repeat: The bottled water market.  Next level.  That has to prompt some "Holy sh*t, we actually did this!" moments.  Anyway, I was driving back up to Youngstown for Joey's wedding this past weekend, and decided to get myself a beverage for the trip to make sure I didn't get drowsy.  It was too hot for coffee, and I don't drink soda, so I scanned the other options and thought "I'll try one of these Vitamin Waters!"  Never had one before, wanted to know what the hype was about.  Well, it took me about 20 minutes to figure out which type I should get.  Should I get Revive?  Essential?  The mysterious XXX?  I settled on Focus because, you know, it's good to focus while driving on the highway.  Not sure if it really did what it promised, but the kiwi-strawberry flavoring was killer.  Here's a question: If you dump all the different Vitamin Waters into a vat, stir, and chug, can you expect to gain x-ray vision?

Man, I wish they made Sirloin-flavored Vitamin Water. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So let me introduce to you, the one and only Billy Shears...

Welcome to my new blog!  If you're coming over from Running In Columbus, an especially warm welcome goes out to you.  Simply present your VIP pass to the bouncer and step right to the front of the line.  No need to be intimidated by that characteristic roll of bouncer skin on the back of his neck.  Tiny answers to me.

Perhaps an explanation is in order for the switch.  Running In Columbus, while enjoyable, no longer seemed appropriate given the reduced role that running has now taken in life.  Running continues, and future marathons are anticipated, but a new blog was needed to more accurately reflect the nature of the blog content.  Hence, High-Minded Drivel exited the birth canal rose from the ashes.

What can be expected?  Well, let's look at some definitions...

From Wiktionary:
high-minded (adjective) - 1. Given to idealism. 2. Refined, cultured, particularly civilized.
drivel (noun) - 1. Senseless talk; nonsense. 2. Saliva, drool.

Take the latter definition from the former term and the former definition from the latter term and you pretty much capture the spirit of the new blog.

It is my great hope that my blog gets into the slang/lingo/vernacular as "HMD."  You know, like DMB stands for Dave Matthews Band, or LC stands for Lifestyle Communities.  To illustrate...

Friend 1: What you up to tonight bro?
Friend 2: Oh, I'm going to see DMB down at the LC.
Friend 1: Sweet.  What then?
Friend 2: Prolly head home and check out HMD.

(Friend 2 is the cool friend).

With this new blog I'm hoping to make some improvements over Running In Columbus.  For example, I may invest in a digital camera so that I can post some pictures (should save me at least 1000 words of typing per).  This will allow me to stop relying on Google Images for all pictorial content.  I'll also try to do more linking, because that's what people tend to use the WWW for.  Basically, I've decided that writing is more of a passion for me than anything, so rather than pretending that running is my passion and primarily investing in that (and then writing about running), I'm going to try investing more in writing and make the blog more worthwhile for both you and me.

So how was the title High-Minded Drivel chosen?  Well, I had been thinking about a new blog title and coming up with things like Walking In Columbus, or Life In Columbus, or something with an urban efficiency theme.  But nothing seemed savory enough.  Then I was watching an episode of Top Gear with Nate when Jeremy Clarkson commented that the Aston Martin he was driving was like "subtle, refined rage."  And I thought "That's it!  The blog doesn't need to have a topic for the title!  It just needs to reflect the nature of the writing content!"  I almost went with Subtle Refined Rage, but then thought that if my blog was going to be worthwhile and gain readership like I hoped, then I would probably be telling more people about it, and telling people that your blog has the word "rage" in the title may not be so helpful.  I wiped off the chalkboard of my mind, wetted a sponge to get all the dust off (the chalk trays, too), and tried to think of some other description for my personality and my style of writing.  High-Minded Drivel was the first thought that exited the bi.....was born.  And I went with it.

I'm committed to making this more than just a blego (that's a term I coined that means "a blog that exists primarily to feed one's ego"*) and making it more of a storytelling and observation forum.  Hope you read it, and hope you enjoy.

*Not surprisingly, I Googled "blego" and found this site where some person used the term blego back in 2004, defining it as "your blogging ego."  Naturally, my blego suffered from this discovery.

You may not find WMD here, or anywhere else, but there's no doubt you'll find massive stockpiles of HMD.