Monthly Archives: December 2020

Problems With You People

This will be the last post of this annus horribilis. Beginning next week, I’ll be posting the most-read posts of this year. I’m writing this Christmas Eve, the morning after Festivus. If you’re unfamiliar with this holiday, you can read up on it here or, even better, watch the video below.



So it’s in the spirit of Festivus that I say I got a lotta problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it! That’s right – I’m ending the year with a little self-indulgence but I hope some of it rings true.

First, what kind of idiot conflates science with politics? I refer, of course, to those folks who deem wearing a mask or staying at home a violation of their fundamental freedoms. Here’s the problem. Your freedoms end where mine begin (and vice versa). You have no right to infect me, even unknowingly. I’ve written many times here that each of us should know our limitations, and unless you have an advanced degree in virology or epidemiology, maybe you ought to be listening to those who do when it comes to dealing with the horrible pandemic. Rather than violating temporary bans that officials place on bars, restaurants, assembly, etc., maybe you ought to look at how other countries have been dealing with the same issues and what their results have been. I think you’ll see that there are solutions that have kept the citizenry and many businesses quite safe while reducing the incidence of infection and death.

While we’re on the topic, some of you have got to quit believing everything you read on the Internet. Here is an article published in Forbes (a reputable source) that discusses how to identify a reputable source of information along with a list of sources you can check. Get your news from these places and you’ll be less likely to fall for “fake news.” More importantly, you won’t do your friends and others a disservice by spreading lies. You don’t like being lied to, do you? Neither does anyone else.

When I traveled with my eldest child in Italy many years ago, one thing she took away from our nightly dinners was that life is too short for sh$tty wine. What that really means is to treat yourself well. Don’t be so hard on yourselves. I realize that not everyone can afford everything they’d like to have but spending a bit more or fewer things or even just granting yourself an hour to do nothing. The problem I have is that as an older person now I realize I should have taken more time to smell the flowers. Maybe the pandemic has given you that insight was well since we’ve all got a bit more time without commutes, business trips, etc.

My final grievance is this: we need to be nicer. The pandemic has brought out the worst in many of us. Just be nice, as the T-shirt from one of the barbecue joints I frequent reads. Wearing your damn mask is being nice. Not wearing it is being disrespectful to the rest of us (you don’t want to kill someone’s grandma, do you?). Getting the vaccine when it’s your turn is being nice (funny how many folks who denied the virus was really a problem are rushing to the front of the line, right?). One silver lining of this hellish year has been that it demonstrates how we really are all in this life together and how many of the people we depend on might not have been on our radar before. Don’t forget that when this year and this virus are behind us. 

Happy New Year. See you in ’21!

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Reality checks

Public Houses

I’m sad, this Foodie Friday. If you’ve hung around the screed for a while, you know that Friday used to be the day when I’d traipse down to my local and quaff an adult beverage or two to celebrate the end of the week. I’ve written about the place before, and while I still patronize it via takeout food, sitting at the bar with the other regulars is not an option for the foreseeable future. Thanks, COVID.

You are probably aware that pubs take their name from the public houses that first appeared in the late 17th century, and was used to differentiate private houses from those which were, quite literally, open to the public as ‘alehouses’, ‘taverns’, and ‘inns’. Much earlier, the Romans established tabernae in Britain, alehouses along their network of roads. Yes, that’s where the word “tavern” comes from.

Here’s the thing. Those alehouses weren’t just places where people went to get drunk. They were meeting places where people could socially congregate, share gossip, and arrange mutual help within their communities. Until last March, that’s exactly the role that my local served as well.

Now before you ask me if I’ve ever heard of Facebook or Next Door, hear me out. I want to make a point that applies to the business world as well. Ask yourself if your social media interactions with your friends and family are as satisfying as Facetiming or Zooming. Probably not. Then ask yourself if those video-based interactions are as good as sitting in the same room or on the next bar stool with a friend. I highly doubt it.

What’s been lost during this pandemic, an economic crisis that has decimated the restaurant industry, is not just jobs. It’s our ability to do what pubs, and by extension, restaurants, were in part created to do: socially congregate, meet new people, have a laugh or a cry with a friend who you can hug. Every business has suffered that loss to a certain extent. Whether it’s customers, suppliers, or staff, I’m pretty sure none of them are coming to an in-person holiday party this year (at least I hope not).

So the real question isn’t how will the bars and restaurants that survive this get back to that happy in-person social place once this is over. The real question is how will your business?

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Filed under food, Thinking Aloud

Fritters

Let’s think about fritters this Foodie Friday. If you’re an American, fritters are usually apple or corn. The former type is sold in donut shops while the latter might be on a menu as an appetizer or side dish. Occasionally you find other types of fritters. Conch comes to mind as do other sea creatures as being sometimes seen in the fritter manifestation.

Of course, that raises the question of what exactly IS a fritter? Is it a puffy, round doughnut-like thing covered in icing and filled with apple? Is it a ping-pong ball-sized lump of batter? Technically, it’s any form of battered meat, seafood, vegetable, or fruit which is then fried. There are sweet fritters and there are savory fritters, and that definition opens up a lot of other foods to fall into the fritter category. Tempura is a fritter. They serve fritters of peas or pineapple or potato with fish and chips in England. Were the potato latkes folks had for Hanukah fritters? They might be, actually.

Why do I bring this up? Because depending on where you are in the world, a fritter can be very different. It raises the issue of YOU knowing what you mean when you say something but your listener just might not be understanding your words in the way you intend. I think we’ve all had the experience of telling a friend or family member or coworker something only to later find that he or she completely misunderstood you—or never heard you at all. There are a lot of reasons why this happens and one of them is that the meaning of any of the words is unclear.

We’ve all played “telephone”, the game where one person says a longish (12+words) sentence to someone who then repeats it to the next person and so on. How often does the original sentence come back intact? Rarely, in my experience, and the likelihood decreases when we use words like fritter that can have many meanings (and that’s just in its noun form!).

What you think you are saying may mean something quite different to someone else—particularly if you start in the middle of a thought, choose a wrong word or speak too quickly. You might order an apple fritter expecting something you’d get in a donut shop and end up with a dough ball that looks like a hushpuppy containing some apple. Remember that we don’t speak to hear ourselves talk (at least I hope not). We speak to communicate with others and making sure that they understand what we’re saying is just as important as what it is we’re saying. Otherwise, we’re just frittering our ability to communicate away. You with me?

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Filed under food, Helpful Hints