We had delivery pizza for dinnera new nights ago.  Unfortunately, they screwed up the order.  Instead of Italian sausage and onion, which is my pizza of choice, they delivered a pizza with sausage and banana peppers.  What a choke!  Is there any lamer pizza topping than banana peppers?  Even when you peel them off, they leave a kind of flourescent residue and a lingering aftertaste.

I don’t mind pepperoni pizza or even plain cheese pizza, but I think some of the new pizza contrivances are just messing with a timeless classic.  Dessert pizza?  Please!  Pizza with no sauce, or no cheese?  Heresy!  Pizza with mozzarella cheese injected into every open space in the crust?  A sacrilegious desecration of the crust, which as any pizza lover knows is one of the most important parts of the pizza!  Breakfast pizza?  Who needs it!  Any college student will tell you that one of the best breakfasts you can have is cold sausage pizza with a glass of cold milk.

For my money, the best sausage and onion pizza is Columbus is made by Tommy’s Pizza on Lane Avenue in Upper Arlington.  I understand that others hold out for Rotolo’s Pizza in Grandview, or Rubino’s in Bexley, but I relish Tommy’s combination of thin, crispy crust, sharply seasoned, almost crunchy Italian sausage, and excellent sauce and cheese, all served piping hot.  We live on the other side of town so I don’t get over to Tommy’s as often as I would like, but when I do it never disappoints.

Lines Of Communication And The Sam Adams Summit

UJ says I always criticize our President — which I don’t believe is true — but in any case let me say something positive about his decision to sit down with Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley in an effort to put the Cambridge incident behind him.  I don’t think that President Obama should have gotten involved  in what is really a local matter in the first place, but clearly he had reached the point where he felt he needed to put this behind him and do something that looked like it brought closure.  Having made that decision, the most effective mechanism was to sit down with the two parties face to face.  The fact that President Obama did so over a glass of beer is not going to hurt his standing with middle America, either. 

I firmly believe that some forms of communication are more likely to lead to compromise and resolution than others.  In my experience, a face to face talk is best because people typically tend to temper their language in direct communications.  When you are sitting across the table from someone, observing their facial reaction to your words, you will choose your words more carefully.  You will recognize the person across the table is a human being with feelings, and most people don’t like to unnecessarily hurt other people’s feelings.  So, instead of saying that the person across the table acted like a stupid jerk, you might say that their conduct was regrettable and led to misunderstanding.  The element of disapproval is still there, but the tone is not so harsh — and in communications tone is important. 

Face-to-face communications are at one pole of the spectrum of communication.  A telephone conversation is next best, because you can hear how your comments are being received and react accordingly.  At the other end of the spectrum is e-mail, where it is too easy to type an incredibly strongly worded statement in the heat of the moment and hit send, only to regret having done so almost instantaneously.  People often will write something that they would never say to another person face to face.  (This is why everyone should take a deep breath and pause for a sip of coffee before hitting the send button on their next angry e-mail.)  It was a good move for President to set up the Sam Adams Summit rather than trying to resolve this particular incident by an e-mail exchange.

The Step-Down Phenomenon: The Ohio State Fair

The 156th Ohio State Fair began this week.  As with every Ohio State Fair, this year’s edition features entertainment acts, performances by children’s choirs and bands, a butter sculpture, and tasty but horribly unhealthy foods, like elephant ears and the enticingly named “fried dough.”  This year’s hot new food option apparently is deep-fried buckeyes — that is, deep-fried balls of peanut butter and chocolate fudge molded to look like a buckeye — which sell for 5 for $4. 

2008 butter sculpture of Ohios presidents

2008 butter sculpture of Ohio's presidents

Interestingly, this year the Ohio State Fair is specifically being marketed  to appeal to people in the grip of the step-down phenomenon — in this case, people who can’t afford to travel long distances or take expensive vacations.  Instead, those people take “staycations,” where they spend a day at some location within a reasonable driving distance.  The Fair’s advertising is emphasizing the Fair’s value, the availability of coupons for Fair events and goodies, and other special deals.  Fair organizers are hoping for record turnouts, if the weather cooperates. 

I hope the weather is good and this year’s Fair sets attendance records.  I like the entire Ohio State Fair experience — getting there early and touring the livestock barns to see the kids and families taking care of the animals they have raised and entered for judging, walking through the open-air flea market and new product pavilions, having lunch at one of the good, home-cooked food restaurants staffed by members of churches, and strolling along a hot and dusty midway with rides designed to cause people to lose the fried sauerkraut they just gobbled down.   Through all of these activities, the Ohio State Fair is a great place for people watching — which is just another part of the good value people might be seeking in these recessionary times.