Desperately Seeking Sven?

I'm not going to say a word about this. I'm just going to give you the headline: Mad Cow Rules Hit Sperm Banks' Patrons. And no, that's not from The Inquirer. It's from the Washington Post.

Huffington Post Pick-Me-Up

I thought the Huffington Post was all about politics, but then I saw a post by Verena von Pfetten that said glasses are the new gorgeous.

While this may only be true for Verena and a handful of commenters on the piece, it perked me up quite a bit.

Could this mean that wearing glasses for over 40 years will finally start paying off?

The first glimmer of hope for me was John Lennon, who started wearing National Health Service glasses in the late sixties. That was more than a fashion statement, it was subversive politics of a kind you seldom see these days. NHS glasses were free from the British government's health service, of which Lennon, like me, was a big fan. But before he wore them, many people, myself included, considered them uncool. Suddenly they were cool because a Beatle was wearing them and a lot more people opted to wear them instead of a. designer frames they couldn't really afford, b. going without glasses. He helped make the NHS cool.

So maybe Verena von Pfetten is more politically savvy than she lets on.

When Blogs Work and Politics Don't: The Tire Pressure Debacle

The Tire QueenRight wing reaction to Barack Obama's comment about tire pressure is yet another example of how political discourse has devolved in this country. It says so much about the world today that a politician can be mocked for saying that properly inflating the tires on our cars could save more oil than would be produced by an oil drilling program proposed by his opponent. Even if you favor said drilling program, you have to be brain dead to downplay the value of proper tire pressure when gas is $4 a gallon (by defiintion the only people who aren't interested in reducing their gas consumption are those who are too rich to notice the price at the pump). Fortunately, this storm in a glove box has led to some good blog posts, like this from Dan Neil in the LA Times. Here are my own random thoughts:

1. My father taught me to check the pressure in the tyres of the family car on a regular basis, probably because I learned to drive in a country that typically pays 3 times as much as America for gasoline.

2. I have routinely fumed about under-inflation in America since I moved here in 1976. Few things irk me more than driving down the Interstate behind a car or minivan or SUV that has obviously not got enough air in its tires. Even when gas was cheap, wasting it was wrong. Not to mention the negative effects on tire wear, braking, safety, etc.

3. America badly needs educating about tires. A lot of people have no idea what the pressure should be or how to check it accurately. Factors like temperature and load are largely ignored. Read Dan's blog. Read the articles on this site. Have a family meeting to make sure all drivers are with the program.

4. Driving on properly inflated tires is something real you can do to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, so if you can't be bothered to do it, what standing do you have in the national debate?

So be a patriot and invest $10 in a decent tire gauge, then use it, regularly. Please.

What's With The Rugelach-Bashing?

I recently had one of those Emily Litella moments (see entries for Emily Litella and Gilda Radner in Wikipedia if you've forgotten who Emily was). It got me thinking about the sad state of political discourse these days.

While driving from Outer Philadelphia to Upstate New York a few days ago, I took the back roads to avoid some badly-managed late summer road work on the Interstate (ah, the joys of GPS-based motoring--freelance detours without the fear factor). Fading in out out over the hills, the radio in my Jeep picked up something that sounded angry and white and pretty far to the right. I caught a phrase that sounded like "get rid of all these rugelach-eating liberal commie gun-banning elitist...something, something." And I'm thinking rugelach? Rugelach? Really?

Best Diner in Conshohocken?

...or "What a Difference a Smile Makes"

I've just come back from a great week working in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, at the offices of my new gig, Monetate. As might be expected, given their past successes, Messrs Brussin and Bookspan are putting together an excellent team. And the location at100 Four Falls Corporate Center doesn't hurt.

In fact the location helps, a lot, because, as I quckly discovered, this is an office building with a hidden advantage: A great little diner/deli tucked away on the ground floor. Called the Green Tree, it made going to the office each day more of a treat than a chore. What better way to start the day than with an individually prepared egg and cheese muffin for breakfast, cooked to order and reasonably priced, served with a smile?

Then keep things going mod-morning with some Green Mountain coffee and a fresh banana. Power through lunch with some interesting dishes, including big salads, served with a smile. Then come back on day two and find they remember your name. Day three and the staff are still cheerful and the menu is still fresh? What's with this place?

I began to wonder if it was just me being homesick and getting infatuated. So I hung out there for a while to do some people watching (and job-related research reading). I soon realized that this was one of those rare places where a business and its customers are in love with each other. Like a bartender who remembers your 'usual' on your secondf visit, the staff seemed to be fully engaged in the job of serving up more than just a bite to eat. I saw guys in suits and Rolexes melting at the simple things like remembered preferences and personal details. High power attorneys, including at least one judge, would chat with the staff about stuff like grandkids and plans for the weekend, in what was clearly an ongoing conversation.

By the end of the week I knew I was going to miss the place. On Friday afternoon I dropped by to get a last cup of coffee. A very corporate-looking businessman in a very expensive suit was waiting for a sandwich. I said to him something casual like "Are these guys good or what?" And just like that we were pals, diner buddies. He couldn't say enough good things about the place. This was obviously a guy who could afford to eat anywhere but clearly he'd learned that money can't buy what the Green Tree dishes up.