Category Archives: low life

Those Damned California Wild Fires!

Apparently, the fires spread very quickly and have devastated many homes. And so this headline from Mashable shifts the focus of the story in an odd way

Deadly wildfires threaten thousands of acres of pot farms in California

I didn’t know there were thousands of acres of pot farms in California!

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Restaurant Rules and Le Petit Jardin

I ran afoul of rules at restaurants only once when I was a young man. I attempted to enter the Palm Court at the Rtiz in London for tea … without a jacket.

Image result for London Ritz tea

A distinguished middle aged gentleman wearing an exquisite suit approached me and asked me to follow him into a side room, where he fitted me with a suitable garment. All was well again.

At the time, I thought this was amusing. But as the years have gone by, I appreciate more why these sorts of rules exist. Certain places do demand certain standards of behavior, or the experience that they are designed to offer is compromised, if not ruined, for all.

Which takes us to the scenic restaurant, Le Petit Jardin in the town Saint Guilhem le Désert. It is meant to be an oasis of calm an beauty.

The owner’s (seeks) to create the right environment for diners to appreciate the spectacular view over the gorges of the Hérault River and to focus on what they have on their plates.

Indeed, the river is quite special. Here is a peek

Image result for Hérault River Saint Guilhem le Désert

And the setting does have its charms.

Image result for Le Petit Jardin Saint Guilhem le Désert

Would mobile phone use, for example, taking pictures of what one is about to eat, or staring vacantly into the screen to catch up on a Facebook thread, disturb this atmosphere? Yes, or at least so says the owner, Jean-Noël Fleury. But his approach to enforcing the no mobile phone rule is a bit eccentric, don’t you think?

Those who insist on keeping their phones are sanctioned with a blow of a whistle and a yellow card (in soccer, the referee’s warning when one player fouls another), which are generally received in good humor.

After the yellow card, comes a red card (when a soccer player is ejected from the game for bad behavior). “Some have refused to put down their phones and said they don’t like the rule and have left,” Fleury told The Local. “I don’t mind. I’d rather that people like that eat in another restaurant;  there are three in the village.”

Does repeated blowing on a whistle  and handing out yellow and red cards, not distract from the peaceful setting? Ah well, let’s hope that it is rarely necessary.

Dave Logan, Meet Donald Trump

Dave Logan is an interesting guy. A few years back, Dave came up with a model for describing how “tribes” work.

There are a number of important take aways form this model, and one of them is that folks get trapped at certain “levels” and form lasting bonds with others at that same level based on their view of the world and their ability to add value to it. Dave calls the groups of people that share these sorts of bonds “tribes”. So skin heads (operating at the lowest level) form strong bonds with other skin heads that makes the rest of us shake our heads in disbelief.  We are unable to communicate with them to persuade them to level up.

Enter Donald Trump. Trump sees himself as a “charismatic leader” – meaning that he thinks he can inspire people to join in new types of groups. This is the polar opposite of Barack Obama who sought to lead by argument, rather than charisma.

Most interesting for me is that Trump seems to have an effect on folks at the lowest levels of society. Not all, but certain types of people do seem energized by Trump’s rhetoric.  He seems able at times to speak their language. It sounds stupid to us, but it resonates at those lower levels. And his message is  you don’t need to level up.

There is not much we can do about this. At the same time, it is important to recognize as a society that  we have a problem because people are festering at these low levels of social engagement. If we want to “level up” our society, we will need to “level up” these people. I don’t mean giving them more money. I do mean engaging with them to alter their belief structure about themselves and their ability to add value to society.

Can we do that?`We could. Will we do it? Probably not.

BTW. as I wrote this post, I was reminded of the great story told by James Jones, “From Here to Eternity”. The characters are stuck in a group – the army – that stictly keeps them at a certain (low) level of social engagement. The story explores how these characters love the army in this rather limiting context.

Gin Popsicles? It’s Freezing here in Tartu!

In a normal month of July, I would be tempted by the idea of making  gin popsicles for sitting on the beach or lounging by the pool of a rich friend, while soaking up a few rays.

Not this summer here in Tartu! It is freezing! Just this morning, we had to give up our outdoor seats in the town square where we were sipping lattes. Too cold!

Image result for Tartu town square

But if you find yourself in a warmer part of the world, and perhaps even in a part of the world where you can wear shorts without goose bumps appearing on your legs, here is the recipe!

Enjoy!

The Body Slammer Goes to Washington

After the events of the other day, it was a surprise that the body slamming GOP congressional candidate from Montana, Greg Gianforte, would win the special election. Apparently, he did.

This may be because around half of the Montana electorate voted by mail before the body slam took place. At least some of those voters might have changed their votes if they had a chance. At the same time, a portion of voters who showed up at the polls after the body slam voted for Ginaforte despite his temper tantrum that led to physical violence against a reporter. They sent the body slammer to Congress, even as police were charging him with assault and battery.

To his credit, the body slammer is a successful businessman. On the other hand, he holds some odd views

Gianforte is a believer in Young Earth creationism, the belief that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. He donated $1.5 million to the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum in Glendive, Montana, a creationist museum which teaches visitors that evolution is false, the Earth is about 6,000-6,400 years old, that dinosaurs were on the Ark and that they likely died out 4,300 years ago during the flood described in the Book of Genesi

Errr …. dinosaurs were on the Ark? Must have been a pretty big Ark!

Is it unreasonable to wonder if Mr. Gianforte will fit into the scene in Congress? He has shown that he can remember the various absurd positions that are considered normal by the GOP. But what will he do when Nancy Pelosi rises to speak in the House? Will he keep his cool?  Or will the body slammer take down all comers?

Stay tuned!

The Street Food Capital of Asia is Banning Street Food!

God save us!

Thai street food in Bangkok is famous. It is a tourist draw. It is the only way many Thais can afford to eat. And street food will be banned in Bankok by the end of the year.

Image result for Bangkok street food

The reason? The government claims that it is to promote cleanliness and safety. The real reason may be the way the military junta is thinking. They want Bangkok to be like Singapore. And street food is too yucky to fit into that vision.

Disaster? I think so. And not just for the folks who have for decades manned the food stalls. But there you go.

An Update on the Man Who Studied Wine Bottles

You probably have not heard of him. But he had a mission to stop the madness. The madness of dripping wine pours.

Over the course of a three-year study, Dr. Daniel Perlman, a biophysicist at Massachusetts’ Brandeis University, perfected a new bottle design that adds a circular groove just below the lip to keep the wine from dripping down the side of the bottle as it’s poured.

Apparently, it works.  Errr … but it will not prevent your wildly gesticulating guests from shloshing red wine onto carpets, wallpaper, clothing, and event pets.

Image result for guest spilling red wine

The pets will just have to deal with it. But there is a cure for getting rid of red wine spills – club soda. Not seltzer. Club soda.