Category Archives: low life

Cold Weather Blues?

The northeastern region of the US has been hit by ferocious cold and snow It is tough stuff, especially if you are not prepared for it. My guess is that long underwear sales are through the roof. And my best wishes go out to all who are suffering through this.

I was told here in Tartu once that cold weather is actually a nice thing. It kills off the bacteria that can cause flu. On the other hand, if you see your pee freeze before it hits the ground, it is time to get inside quick!

Hmmm … I have not had the opportunity to test that. But it does stimulate the imagination!



Colbert Weighs in on the Franken Thing

It turns out that quite a few famous dudes felt that they were/are entitled to harass and abuse women. And it appears that the floodgates are opening for gross out revelation stories.

The latest involves Senator Al Franken.To his credit, no one —yet — is claiming that Franken is a repeat offender. There was just one episode. And to his credit, there is no allegation of rape. Yes, standards have fallen this low. And to Franken’s credit, he simply apologized for exercising bad judgment while trying to be funny.

Well Steven Colbert is having none of that.

I agree with Colbert. What do you think?


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!


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!