Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pizza! Pizza!

In our little corner of the world we are blessed with an almost inordinate number of pizza shops (we used to call them pizza parlors eons ago) that are within a 5-minute car jaunt of my domicile.

We have the venerable Columbus favorite, Donatos, the ubiquitous Pizza Hut and Dominos as well, in addition to a number of smaller shops, most of which serve a quality pie for a reasonable amount.

Romeo's is a growing chain based in Cleveland, which took over a Minute Man location, swapping out one chain for another, as the Minute Man moved to a different location. PaPa Joe's, another chain, came in briefly but moved from a very small former Dairy Queen building into the former location (larger) of Catalfino's, a locally-owned shop, which took over yet another shop's larger location closer to traffic. We have a Grapevine, a Taranto's Pizza Barn, Pizzeria New York, a Hungry Howie's (chain), and the recent return of Little Caesars, which features a large pie for $5.00, with no advance ordering needed. Years ago when we were desperate for pizza and low on cash, LC's had a 2-fer-tenner deal, but the quality was sorely lacking. They have improved their quality considerably, and the price cannot be beat. Another long-time Columbus pizza name is Cardo's, which has had a boom-and-bust run for many years, and which came back to town last year. It is still here (so far).

One small chain, Eddie's, opened without fanfare, served a decent product for a good price, then shuttered the doors within a month. It, of course, was in a location that had been home to several short-lived shops, attached to a Sunoco mini-mart. Location, location, location, anyone?

A 30-minute drive out to Buckeye Lake is our family's favorite place, the Pizza Cottage, who now has a location right here in Pickerington. Good, but not as good as the original, although much closer.

Outside of our 5-minute car jaunt range is Kingy's Pizza Pub, a good-sized family and sports gathering place which serves a sweet pineapple and pepperoni pizza, a particular favorite of Bro and me.

And then comes the news that the national chain Papa John's will be moving across from Donatos shortly.

Some would say, "Enough already with all those pizza places!"

I am not one of those barbarians, however. All this for a product that I did not know existed until I was 6 or 7 years old, when Beloved Father bowled one year for Pizza Man, and late one night brought home a deliciously aroma'd pepperoni pizza, and my food world has not been the same since.

Thanks, Dad!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

College Cage

An article popped up for me this morning that I get to see every year or every other year. It is known as the Mindset list. It is compiled by a group that looks at incoming college freshmen and what they have known in their lives. When you read this list, it puts your own life in perspective as to what you lived through and the times of your own life versus what the new freshmen class has experienced.

For instance, the internet has been around longer than these kids have been around. (Most of them were born in 1993). They have no idea why O.J. Simpson is famous and LBJ for them stands for LeBron James. Quite the difference from my life experiences. If you consider the major events of my life, none would know of the cold war, 'peace out and free love' or the American cultural revolution of the sixties and seventies. I suppose the Vietnam War might as well be the Civil War to most of them.

That got me to thinkin', how will I compare my life experience to Ragin' Cage when he is ready to assault the college campus? He will likely not know how 9/11 changed the culture of the U.S. He will have always had to take his shoes off and walk through a body scanner to fly on an airplane. He will likely not know gasoline under $4 per gallon or possibly have never driven a gas-powered automobile. Like this group, he will never have known a world without powerful computers. He gravitates to them now like earlier generations flocked to the television.

It is hard to imagine what he will think when talking to his Paw-Paw on his first year of college. He could just be coddling the old guy until something or someone better comes along to fill his time. My life experiences will probably not be interesting to him. I suppose that comes to all of us at one time or another. I went off to lead my life as did my siblings and my beloved parents were just along for the ride. For them we will fall off the relevant wheel and just tag along to watch as they grow older. But then they come back to us as they age, become parents and need our insight and advice, and the bond that has always been there strengthens.

Then the life experiences we have blends with theirs and we can tell them of our history with rapt attention.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The road to fuddy-duddyism

I have discovered that as I pass through this age of fifty-three and it's shadow is cast behind me, I am beginning to become a cauldron of contrasts. I wonder, am I moving toward the world of fuddy-duddyism or am I passing through the temporary world of 'man-o-pause'?

I am finding that I often still have the exuberance of a ten-year-old (especially when my grandson is about), yet more frequently than in the past take a stroll into the land of crotchetydom. For proof, see comment on North of 50's latest post concerning the state of education. "By golly it was better in the old days". Yep, back then we walked up hill both ways.

I marvel at the way things can be done with new technology yet lament that the average person can't figure out the simplest things that are required in everyday life. Reference the line in the movie 'Forest Gump', "stupid is as stupid does". Perhaps it is because I have always been a hands-on kind of guy and I learn best by doing. I take things apart and put them back together and hope I have no extra pieces at the end. With that goes the primal man order #16, (almost) never read directions. Thinking it through is a brain exercise, one that it often seems I rarely get to see in others.

I am also finding I am routinely comparing everything I experience to a time or situation in the past. How is my job performed against the standards I was trained on all those years ago. My profession is one of continual change. Retail has evolved and is virtually unrecognizable from thirty years ago. Nothing against change but I sometimes hearken back to the simpler times; again another fuddyism.

Why is it we always think things from the past are better? Is television better? How does that old black and white stack up against a sixty inch LCD HD? (Actually, I don't have one of those, I'm too cheap to pay for HD channels). I suppose as long as I embrace change and try to see the positive side of it all it can be a defense against fuddy-duddyism.

So as long as I look forward with hope and a smile, I can look back on the memories and keep them close. It's a brave new world we experience every day, but sometimes it's fun to be crotchety.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The state of education today

The State of Ohio will release a report card for each school district next week; according to an article in the paper today, the Columbus Public School System will receive a grade of "C" for the fifth consecutive year when those reports become official.

To "earn" the grade of "C", the district will have met 5 of 26 academic measures for the previous school year. That's right, meeting 5 of 26 goals (19%!), a failing grade in my day, means you get a "C", which is supposed to represent the "average" grade obtainable.

There is progress shown, however (so they say): more Columbus students are earning higher test scores (yay!); there is a "but" coming here, as, according to the article, "even if they're not passing".

Progress can mean we are failing not as badly! Woo Hoo! Pass another tax levy, people, and we can do even better!

Somehow, a 19% "success" rate translates to a performance index of 81.8 points (up from 80.3!), which is nearly a "B" rating, of which you need an index of 90 to achieve. At least, it is "nearly" a "B" rating in the eyes of evaluators in the school system.

Amazingly, and this is a direct quote from the article, "And on the whole, the district's educators effectively taught at least a year's worth of material, according to a calculation called 'value added'."

Perhaps a year's worth of material was not learned, do you think?

The superintendent is pleased; in 2001 the district rated an "F", then spent four years as a "D" school system, before hitting that all-important average grade.

Up, up, and away, Columbus Schools!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Captain Bob the Sequel

Captain Bob did us all a great favor today as he successfully managed to avoid wiping out two branches of the Family Tree.

The good Captain took a flying lesson this morning, and I went along as an unpaid observer, thanks to his Beloved being mortally opposed to augering into the ground with him; either that, or she claimed she had to go to work.

We had a very nice instructor, who has been teaching flying for about 10 years. The plane we went up in was formerly known as Yellow Thunder, the traffic plane for Channel 4/Sunny 95 a few years back. Captain Bob did a smooth takeoff from Bolton Field, and over the next hour, as we traversed the designated flying area for the flight school, we passed over Lilychapel, West Jefferson, near London, and back around toward Bolton. Captain Bob did a variety of maneuvers including turns, the disorientation drill (but no barrel rolls), and additional climbs and descents. He handled everything smoothly, including the landing.

Actually, the landing was done by the instructor, but Captain Bob deftly handed off the controls to our instructor for that maneuver.

Captain Bob now has his own Flight Log that shows he did indeed pilot an aircraft.

It was quite interesting as we slipped the surly bonds of earth and took off into the wild blue yonder.

Thanks for the flight, Captain Bob.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Captain Bob

This morning I awoke to a riotous tumult. My Beloved was hovering about the front of our abode nervously pacing back and forth. "What's wrong?" I inquired. "We have a problem." Her look was both stern and panicked.

She took my hand in hers and guided me gently to the front windows. She pointed and through the open windows I could hear the sounds of crying carried on the morning breeze through the ageing screening. There was trouble a-brewin'. A mother mallard was squawking and raising a ruckus across the path. She was in a tizzy, circling a rusty iron grate long ago embedded in the hot asphalt pavement. "Something's wrong," My Beloved exclaimed.

Quicker than Santa on a rooftop, Captain Bob sprang into action. Donning his cape he grasped the door handle nearly ripping the massive glass door off its hinges. Powering through the opening he leaped over the sidewalk and retaining wall in a single bound, and blazed down the front lawn leaving a burnt trail of once lush and thick grass (and weeds) in his wake.

Across the street he flew (after first checking for cars by looking both ways) and threw himself into the chaos. His keen intellect instantly surmised the situation. Baby ducks were trapped below ground, locked in their prison by a massive rusting hulk of a grate. With no regard for himself, Captain Bob wrapped his powerful hands about the bars of the grate and with his muscles rippling and straining under the weight, ripped the iron prison door from its station and flung in across the lawn.

There they were, two snugly little ducklings quacking away while mother mallard squawked from across the street. "Save my babies", she cried. (Fortunately Captain Bob speaks fluent mallard). So as not to scare the duckies as there were already traumatised, Captain Bob slowly lowered himself into the seething abyss. Taking his fluffy yet manly cape he wrapped the duckies in his powerful arms and raised them back to freedom and a joyous reunion with their mother.

With a tear in her eye, mother mallard quacked, "got any crackers?"

Captain Bob to the rescue.