Chain of Foods

Well, for once, the travel gods have smiled my way. My trip to Jacksonville was cancelled. So I get to spend more time in Baltimore.

My first meal as a 27 year old was cold meatloaf. I was on a con call and missed lunch. My coworkers had it wrapped and an hour later, I munched on cold meatloaf in a small huddle room at HCFA… there wasn’t even a candle in my mash potatoes.

A note about vindication… I saw, I swear, an Urban Park Ranger van. Yes, Dianne is not insane (about this at the very least.) The Urban Park Rangers really exist. Fear them.

Now on to the rant:

Chain restaurants suck! I hate the general concept of them. The whole Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris, Legals Sea Food, Capital Grille, Cheesecake Factory thing, I am over.

Why do I hate these places? Because people treat these places are fine dinning. They think that a good night out (not to mention a shit load of money spent) for a mediocre meal with passable service is a good time. Worse yet, people treat these places are cultural Meccas.

My family went (against my vote) to Capital Grille in Boston. I was aghast at the prices for boring food. I have had far better for far less. I have had far better in my own kitchen… far better. And then. And then I saw the wine list and I saw the prices and I was just plain offended. Here’s an odd thing… I don’t usually get wine when I go out to dinner. Why? ‘Cuz I know what this stuff costs and see the prices jacked up two and three and four times is just galling. Its highway robbery.

Now as a bidniss traveler, I am the first to admit than when you pull into a new town, it is nice to know what you are getting in terms of a meal. This is the only thing in favor of these chain jobs.

There is another and far worse problem with chain restaurants. They screw the little guy. The local place, the mom and pop place, gets priced out of the market. If you are small shop, like Anne Cashion’s Cashions, you can buy at what the market dictates. But large chains, like Morton’s, can dictate the market because they buy in such huge volumes. The little guy has a harder time getting a better deal. And what happens next? The little guy has to pass on the higher cost of buy supplies to the customer and then you, the customer, get grumpy at the higher cost. (Very much like the Walmart effect.)

What can you do? Number one, eat locally. Hunt out the local places run by local people to eat. Try Cashions. Try La Fourchette. Scour to find something to eat that isn’t a chain. Number two, check out Slow Foods ( These are people with the right mindset.

So to the chain of foods, I say, “Fork you!”

Never Travel with Joe

So, tomorrow begins my 30 days of hard labor in Baltimore. I’d really
rather spend 6 months in a salt mine, but that was not available. Yup,
30 days of driving back and forth from Baltimore. Joy! But at least
the customer is cool… oh wait, that’s not really true. They’ve got
the gold and thus they make the rules.

I have added the recipes from the Loire dinner, so if you are feeling
adventurous and want to cook something awesome, check them out. In
other news, I still haven’t figured out the JavaScript mystery yet and
to be honest, I am not getting any closer to an answer… stay tuned.

The Rant:
So where do whores shop? Seriously? Do they make their clothes? Is
there a hooker supply store somewhere in DC that I just don’t know
about? I mean, where do you get a lime green pair of short shorts with
a bright pink strip that just barely covers your nipples? The reason I
ask is because Fitz and I were driving from the Dubliner to my house and
saw some of the evenings finest near the new convention center.

I suppose that it is easier to shop for pimps. First of, their clothes
do not have to attract business. Second, its far easier to find a
feathr boa and pork pie hat than it is to find an outfit completely made
of fish netting.

I guess we’ll never know.

In other never knowing news, did you know that Bartles and James is not
spelled that way? There is a “y” is Jaymes. Did anyone realize that?
Not being a big wine cooler drinker, I should be expected to know that.
(Guys with the name Winston and Reginald drink wine coolers.) But you
just assume that there was not “y.” Or more accurately, there is no
reason to expect a “y.” Why does this bother me so much? Dunno, maybe
this is one of those Coppernican revolution in which nothing actually
changes, the sun doesn’t actually move, but in the same regard,
everything changes. Trust nothing.

Never travel with Joe. His train to NYC caught on fire. This was one
of the Acela trains. On fire. And no, it was not Mike Dukakis’
eyebrows bursting into flames. And then on the ride home, Joe’s train
was quite packed. Why? Because another train caught on fire. Simple
lesson here, never travel with Joe, or at least not by train.

Special appearance at Toledo on Tuesday. So, I am not going to be alone
in my time in Baltimore. Ken is going to be with me. With wife and
daughter out of town, this leaves Ken with a kitchen pass that he is
compelled to use. He is going to join us on Tuesday to, “See what all
the hubub is about.” Join us, won’t you.

Finally, Suzie revealed that July 3 was a record night at Toledo. She
broke the weeknight receipt record by ringing up something like $8,000.
The bar went through 10 cases of Lager. And guess what, at least two of
those cases went to our table… good work!

Fun and Games

Well this week kicks off the Access360 Garden Spot Tour 2001. The tour will be making stops at:

* Fort Knox, KY
* Sierra Vista, AZ
* Jacksonville, FL
* Montgomery, AL
* Security, MD

Needless to say, I am extremely excited to be a part of this wondrous affair. Good thing I have new games to play while I travel.

Game #1
This game was created by Fitz in a moment of clarity. Think of your favorite band. Take the word in their name and change it to cock. 80s bands and country bands seem to do well in this game. For exaple:

* A Flock of Cocks
* New Rider’s of the Purple Cock
* Big Head Todd and the Cocks

You get the idea. For maximum enjoyment, play this game for at least three days straight, in public, around Dianne.

Game #2
I’m not sure who created this game, but I believe I was close when it happened. Take a song title; change the last word in it to hole. Both Elton John and Peter Gabriel fair well at this game:

* Goodbye Norma Hole
* Bennie and the Holes
* Shock the Hole
* Digging in the Hole
* In Your Hole
* Big Hole

Again, this game is easy to learn, but takes a lifetime of wasted moments to master.

Website news:
I need some help. I need all of you to go to Go to the Pictures section and click on the pictures. I need to know if anyone gets JavaScript errors. There are reports of strange things going on. Please, please, please get me anything find.

You’re not my usual cabana boy!

The problem is that sometimes the advertising company convinces a customer that their campaign is properly focused, and it ends up having strange results.

Consider the following:

(Please keep in mind that I found this article via Google.  I do not, in any way, shape, or form read the Free Republic, nor do I condone rampant conservatism.  Then I again, I very rarely condone rampant anything… except for, possibly, rampant, hot Swedish models in chocolate pudding.)

White Rock Distilleries wanted to sell more rum to women.  What they ended up with was a rum that marketed quite well to the gay population in Florida… which explains why I saw their billboard on Interstate 95 in Jacksonville.

I think the interesting point here is that we can easily convince ourselves of one thing, and the perceived truth is something completely different.  This is especially true of our own self-image.  What we convince ourselves of what we think we are can be completely and totally off base when it comes to other people.

Consider the follow gem of a lyric from Lou Reed and John Cale:

The trouble with personalities
they’re too wrapped up in style
it’s too personal
they’re in love with their own guile

They’re like illegal aliens
trying to make a buck
they’re driving gypsy cabsbut they’re thinking like a truck

We advertise our own self-image.  We create an intricate facade.  Much like The Matrix, we have any image of ourselves.  This image is our interpretation of ourselves, which people then interpret.  This game of Chinese Whispers goes on and on until it ends with a completely different self-image than when it started. Just be aware and careful what and how you advertise.