Diamond Dinner

A quick trip up to Akron today.  Aunt Corinne and Uncle Mack were in town, so Mom, Kish, and I went up to visit with them and Aunt Bebe.  It was great to see everyone and to check out “The Buckeye Room” at “Buckeye Bebe”‘s pad.

The quick jaunt was properly capped off by dinner at the Diamond Grille, which — as any regular reader of this blog knows — is a fabulous steakhouse and the source of many fond memories for Uncle Mack.  A few oysters, a glass of wine, some great conversation, and a perfectly cooked medium rare Porterhouse steak as big as a stop sign later, we were back in the car and rolling down I-71 to Columbus, letting the digestive juices do their work.

The Curious Randomness Of It All

There is a tiny building on a corner a block away from our office in downtown Columbus.  Years ago, I think, it was a cell phone store, and before that it might have been a rental car office.  Nothing about it commands your attention.  It’s just a small, anonymous building that you ignore as you pass by every day.

For many months it was vacant.  Periodically you would notice a new sign go up, for a wine shop or a bakery.  The businesses never seemed to last, or maybe even open at all.  I never patronized them.

A few months ago, a new business opened.  I noticed it because the name — Flaxella Cafe & Deli — was a bit weird and sounded like the name of one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters.  The business was so unestablished that the name of one of the prior ventures, L’Appat, was still above the front door.  Still, the proprietor seemed to be making a go of it.

This past Wednesday, a taxi carrying two passengers plowed through the front window of the building.  No one was seriously hurt.  No one knows why the cab driver veered off the road, over a curb, and through the plate glass.  It’s an intersection that thousands of vehicles pass every day without incident . . . until Wednesday.  Who knows if Flaxella will reopen — but I wonder if the proprietor of the business is contemplating why this odd accident had to happen now, when the building is finally being used, and couldn’t have happened on a day during one of the many months where this anonymous little building stood dark?

Sticking To Civil Discourse

As we move closer to the election, feelings become stronger and political passions worm their way closer to the surface.  It becomes harder and harder to have a discussion about politics without increasingly sharp words being exchanged.

Words matter.  Mean-spirited, unnecessarily harsh words can leave a permanent scar.  At our jobs, and in our daily lives, we somehow manage (at least, most of the time) to express and discuss things in a civil way.  We might “disagree” with a co-worker, or “see things differently” than a friend, but we typically don’t call people “liars” or accuse them of standing with Stalin, Hitler, and Torquemada as among the most malign people in history.  We refrain because we don’t want anyone to say such hurtful things about us and we know that such statements can cause long-time relationships to die in a blaze of bitterness.  I’m happy to note that, on this obscure family blog, where our posters and frequent commenters — elroyjones, Mike N, Cousin Jeff, and Marcel, among others — clearly occupy different points on the political spectrum, we can express our differences without flame-throwing or rancor.

I contrast this little world with the political and internet worlds, where grossly excessive, over-the-top overreactions are so absurdly commonplace.  In those worlds, simply failing to provide the detailed context a writer might think is necessary — say, about the unadopted recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Commission — can convert a perfectly accurate, limited statement of fact into a “lie.”  I’m not sure how I would react if one of my friends or colleagues accused me of “lying” under those same circumstances, but I’m sure I wouldn’t like it.

I know there are those who think that such charges and counter-charges are just part of “the game,” and if you want to swing in the spotlight of politics you just need to suck it up and develop a thick skin.  I don’t care how hardened you are, however — no one wants to be called a liar, or a communist, or a person who desires nothing more than to put people “back in chains.”  Americans often bemoan how inert and ineffective our political institutions are; I’d wager that part of the reason is that it is incredibly difficult to sit across the table from somebody who just publicly accused you of being a liar or a fool, put aside your anger at what you consider to be an unfair charge, and work together to strike a reasonable compromise.

We’d all be better off if we toned it down and strove for civil discourse that won’t leave our country bruised, bloody, and bitterly divided when the morning after the election comes — whatever the outcome.

In Need Of A Day Brightener

Ugh.  It’s wet, cool, windy, sloppy, and gray this morning — so crappy that even our hardy canine duo quickly did their duty and then pulled relentlessly toward home.  For the human on the stroll, the challenge of managing two leashes and a buffeted umbrella while trying to tie off a full dog poop bag and getting coated by wind-blown rain wasn’t exactly a shining start to the day, either.

We need a day brightener!  I’m going with this picture of the mass of orange and yellow flowers spilling from one of our flowerbeds, taken on a bright sunny day last weekend.