In re: Bric-a-brac / speaking American

Brick-A-Brac

Spent a few hours yesterday running some errands, including a few stops at thrift shops looking for a typewriter (long story for another time).  In the course of entering/exiting and walking through  a selection of Columbus’ thrift shops encountered a variety of individuals from cross sections of Columbus I don’t always see.  For the most part nothing too interesting to report on and in general the shops were pretty nice and clean and had pretty decent stuff for sell (not just bric-a-brac despite the sign above from the Salvation Army store on South High St.). Two things that kind ofstuck in my head was how much crap (and I don’t mean crap to mean its junk – plenty of good pots, pans, glasses, clothes, electronics or whatever) our country must go through that we can donate this stuff in such volumes.  Some of the stuff is clearly headed to new homes where it will have a good 2nd, 3rd or 4th life.  Some of the electronics though are destined for doom (no chance in being sold) – one example: old Ameritch DSL modems that originally come free when you sign up for service.  I don’t know maybe somebody breaks theirs and needs one but these things don’t seem like anyone will be coming to buy one.  But actually some of the stuff really sells – VHS tapes?  Actually yes – there sure seemed to be a lot of folks combing through the pretty expansive offerings that are out there – so if your looking to get into a nice collection it seems like just the time.

My over analytical view of the world after visiting all these shops:  Partly sad to see all the extra junk we have put out there and how the exciting new electronic which once was the latest and greatest and was the center of our universe is sitting on a  shelf with a grease pencil $1.99 on it, but partly happy seeing how affordable living in America is if you go pick up a electric hand mixer for $1.99 and another buck for the metal beaters and how we do reuse a lot of the stuff and second homes are found (there were even dumpster divers going through the rejected donations).

The other constant on the trip around thrift shops was seeing Columbus’ immigrant population out in force and then running into someone thinking I wanted to chat w/ them about the need for these people to ‘speak American’ (as a side note the person he was upset about was speaking English and the guy had just been nice about holding the door for the non-American speaking man, so not the worst person ever to be fair), but still the comment sickened me and I wish I had retorted with some witty comment about this ‘American’ language he was talking about or something about his ancestors – presumably non-English speaking bringing a copy of Rosetta Stone w/ them on the boat ride over to be so well prepared.  But I didn’t sadly, and I say sadly as I am not sure these people get the fact that our country has never been such a purely English speaking nation as they think and that to thrive Columbus needs to be reaching out to immigrants and growing these populations.

In re: Winter miracles

January 7th in Ohio doesn’t usually bring with it 50 degree weather – but this year it did and that meant the bike path was full of bikers and walkers, the tennis courts even had people in shorts.  We took advantage of it and headed off on a nice long walk with the dogs in the peak of the amazing weather.  On the way back the urge for a coffee came upon as we neared the Caribou, but alas no wallets were to be found.  Would there be two miracles today?  Yes – just like the miraculous weather we were able to scrounge up $1.67, just 2 cents short of a small cup of coffee and with the kind aid of the staff I was coached into the right answer to the trivia (Caribou Coffee in pig latin, which is Ariboucay offeecay) which brought it down to $1.59 – enough to leave a tip even!  So with a second cup to split up the cup and a dash of half and half we were out on their patio enjoying the amazing day with our coffees and dogs – a winter miracle I’d say.

In re: Conquering the New Year

So it’s a new year and a lot of folks are trying to live up to their resolutions. I’ve never been that into them, maybe its the cliche nature of the whole thing, but this year I’ve come up with a few basic ideas of things I’d like to try and do and hopefully cliche or not I can stick to some of them. One of course is going to the gym. Having quit my last gym when I moved a year ago its been quite a while since going and its hard to get back into the routine (when you get into the routine its great – it’s amazing how hard it can be to break the cycle and get going again, seems like the new year is my chance). Found a place near where we live that seems like a good value and not too crowded. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

The Wall Street Journal had a funny list of 27 Rules of Conquering the Gym – which while often unsaid are pretty spot on.

15. If you’re motivated to buy an expensive home exercise machine, consider a “wooden coat rack.” It costs $40, uses no electricity and does the exact same thing.
….
19. If a gym class is going to be effective, it’s hard. If you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, you’re at brunch.
….
27. There is no secret. Exercise and lay off the fries. The end.

One of the other things I’ve been aiming to stick to in the new year is following some of Mark Bittman’s advice about reducing meat intake and going to a more veggie diet. While I don’t intend to become a vegetarian (just yet at least) making vegetarian meals more often is part of the plan as well as making other meals more veggie focused. To aid in this effort grabbed the How to Cook Everything Vegetarian Edition iPhone app and flipped through it (also plan to buy the paper copy as despite sharing the material they aren’t exactly substitutes). I am surprised to learn from friends that they aren’t that familiar with the original How to Cook Everything cookbook and am always thrilled to point them to it as a reference. Its the first place I usually go for basic dishes and everyday simple things. I’ll probably posting more on some of the new dishes I try out so heads up on that.

In re: Pandora + iOs 4

So you probably know I like the iPhone, I was one of those fools who paid way too much for the first one and have been hooked since. So like a true addict I was counting down the days to iOs 4.0 that added background processes for apps (I know, I could have been on Android doing stuff like that, but its not as good – sorry).

So while I am still using my 3GS and won’t be getting a iPhone 4 due to cost, I am happy getting my background music.

A few apps I use this makes a huge difference for, MLB’s amazing app and Pandora. Pandora was great before, but the inability to check email, or anything else for that matter made it limited, MLB had limited background abilities by using a Safari workaround. Now however I am happily streaming tunes or a game and zipping around doing other things. (For example today the Indians had a day game, I’m in NY for work and was able to pop on the game and still keep up w/ all my work emails that were pouring in. The only flaw is it doesn’t resume after a phone call MLB).

So while backgrounding is great, one of the other great improvements I didn’t really think about was the integration of the playback controls (pause, play, next , back) meaning that now I can plug my iphone into my car, start Pandora and skip tunes using the controls in my car – how amazing is that? (amazing I say) Makes me wonder why I have Sirius…
Okay probably too much of a post on what most people would say is a pretty small thing that Apple should have had all along but there you are.

In re: Does Arnold control the weather?

It could be just a coincidence, but I doubt it.  Somehow Arnold, that is Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California can control the weather in Columbus.  This weekend is the annual Arnold Sports Festival here in Columbus, OH.  It began as a body building event but has grown into a huge fitness event that while still drawing body builders (makes for a strange crowd on the streets) but also more obscure things like table tennis.  The most remarkable part of the event is that it happens in the beginning of March and if I recall last year the weather was amazing (I doubt the people coming to Columbus from warm climates realize this of course), this year, it has not been very nice, until today when it feels like its 70 (it’s really 40 something, but oh so sunny and tomorrow is almost 50!).  So I say California is in good hands, your not going to fall into the ocean while he’s on the watch.

Anyway, good weekend for Columbus, the festival is a huge draw and it’s also a gallery hop weekend in the Short North, meaning two very different crowds will be out, with some cross over around the cap.

In re: MLB At Bat for iPhone does NBA too?

[Quick background, MLB At Bat is a program in its second year for the iPhone that now exists as a free ‘Lite’ version and a pay $9.99 full version.  The full version that I have allows detailed stats and scores for all games in real time (or close to) and additionally live audio for the games, often both home and away feeds.  The app is probably one of the most compelling paid apps for many of us and really is a ‘killer app’ one that could drive people (die hard baseball fans) to buy an iPhone regardless of other features.  Unfortunately other leagues haven’t followed or are tied to other carriers with exclusive deals.]

MLB At Bat does NBA broadcasts too?  Well it’s not supposed to, but while multitasking (watching the Cavs, doing some work, and keeping an ear on the Indians home opener that is in a rain delay with my iPhone and MLB At Bat) I came across an interesting instance of digital wires being crossed.  Not sure exactly how this happened but while listening to the Indians rain delay coverage using MLB At Bat (its crazy that for just $9.99 you can get this for the whole season -crazy good deal if your into baseball) my radio feed changed suddenly from hearing Indians fans calling into gripe about the Cleveland weather, the need to add a dome (likely), shorten the season (others strangely wanted to lengthen the season also likely), and all kinds of other rants the feed changed into the play by play of the NBA, namely Memphis v. Phoenix.

So while I had been impressed with the powers of this iPhone app already  its abilities to show me live stats and game casts, as well as live audio, now I am even more impressed, a two sport program, the Bo Jackson of applications, an amazing deal!  (Somehow they switched the feed from WTAM to some other station, either the MLB or WTAM the station up in Cleveland who has the Indians, but it was kinda strange to hear).

In re: Wrong Side of History

Host Ira Glass speaks with Harold Wilshinsky about a piece of advice he gave to his daughter and son-in-law over 15 years ago: take your money out of the hands of Bernie Madoff, and diversify. Reluctantly, they listened to Harold, even though his son-in-law’s family was making a fortune investing with Madoff. But as history would have it, Harold would come out in the know. (8 minutes)

via This American Life.

Great episode of This American Life a few weeks back, just wanted to put a plug in for it  –  the prologue described above is amazing, hearing about 15 years of living in the shadow of your family telling you how big a mistake you made to take your money out of Madoff (they were making gobs of money) and poof, one day in 2009 everything flips.

The other stories are great too, especially the one on Bernie Epton who lost to Harold Washington in the race for Chicago mayor (Harold was the first black mayor of Chicago and if you don’t know went on to be quiet the mayor to say the least).