Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Candy Mountain and MRE Food reviews

So I was out at Sappington Farmer's Market on Saturday to pick up fruit and I stopped in at Uncle Sam's. I had just netflixed The Day After. I have always had an end of civilization fear. That is why I love post apocalyptic movies like Road Warrior, Red Dawn, heck I even have seen the Postman. Postman was pretty bad.

I walked into Uncle Sam's and saw two guys behind the counter joking around. I didn't pay them much mind and I circled around to look at the fancy Surfire flashlights and the nightsticks. As I studied the flashlights a noise started coming out of their computer laptop they had behind the counter. I didn't even notice it at first. Then it was really freaky. It sounded like some sort of incredibly strange and annoying story. At first it was just sort of annoying. And then it got really annoying. And then it got a little funny. And then annoying again.

I went around to the other counter so I could see what they hell they were watching. I only caught a few seconds of video and then the video jammed. I shook my head. I am not really recommending watching the above video. You will never get the four minutes of your life back. But damn, it was really kind of funny and strange. But I am warning you, the video is really annoying so don't watch it unless you can handle that.

So I walked back to take a look at water purification and MREs. One of the guys helped me figure out the difference in them. He said they got a ton of calories. He didn't seem too wild about the taste, but I kind of like the idea of eating rations. What are they like anyway? Didn't we drop a bunch of planeloads of this on Afghanistan? I wonder what kind of MRE bombs we drop in Afghanistan today? Hmmm.

I bought three MREs. I had one today. It was a very interesting experience. I will write about it later this week.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Art of Misinformation

I like information. I consume an inordinate and in some ways unhealthy amount of news, so I often wind up reading and researching a bit more than initial news reports. I am also a big fan of stat book and maps. As a kid my mother put maps on my wall and I would stare at them for hours. I wore out binding on more than one Rand McNally statistic books of the world. Finding out the populations of countries, percentage of each religion, per capita GNP(the popular measure used at the time), major industries and other interesting facts. These have changed a lot since the Cold War and much of the statistics are now more accurate for the Second World now that we have more open exchange rates. I still check the Census, BEA, CIA and more websites to check information for fun.

I like to fact check information. The internet is full of information, and with this much information there are occasions great inaccuracies. This should not be surprising. I found an example of some sneaky misinformation. But it was not just the misinformation that was surprising, but how much this misinformation spread and how it was continually accredited.

This past week an old friend sent me a link to an interesting map on a website below.
The website says the map reflects the GDP economic equivalent to each state of the Union and compares to a country with a similar GDP. For example Missouri is equal to Poland and Illinois is the equivalent economy size to Mexico. Now this on the surface is highly amusing and I could look at this for hours. At first I scanned across the map and was absorbed by the comparisons. It is highly entertaining to look at. Then I looked close. Arkansas is Pakistan? Pakistan is huge- around 170 million people. France might be the same as Cali. Poland as Missouri- huh, Poland is pretty big. Mexico as Illinois? Wow, Mexico is huge, somewhere around 100 million people. Now I know we are very mighty in the US in terms of economy compared to the rest of the World even with the rapidly growing economies of Asia. I scrolled down on the site and they list off the top economic sized states of the Union with their nation counterparts.

This is what the first seven economies were according to the site:
  1. California, it is often said, would be the world’s sixth- or seventh-largest economy if it was a separate country. Actually, that would be the eighth, according to this map, as France (with a GDP of $2,15 trillion) is #8 on the aforementioned list.
  2. Texas’ economy is significantly smaller, exactly half of California’s, as its GDP compares to that of Canada (#10, $1,08 trillion).
  3. Florida also does well, with its GDP comparable to Asian tiger South Korea’s (#13 at $786 billion).
  4. Illinois – Mexico (GDP #14 at $741 billion)
  5. New Jersey – Russia (GDP #15 at $733 billion)
  6. Ohio – Australia (GDP #16 at $645 billion)
  7. New York – Brazil (GDP #17 at $621 billion)
  8. Pennsylvania – Netherlands (GDP #18 at $613 billion)
And looking at this list more closely, I thought to myself, this has got to be wrong. There is no way the Illinois has a larger economy than NY state. No way that New Jersey has more. I kept going down the list. These numbers didn't add up. I did some checking GNPs on some more reputable websites and found the site riddled with errors in all sorts of ways.

But this is not the part that is disturbing. I am not the only person to have found the errors. I went down on the comments and read a lot of interesting responses. Over 300 responses on this blog. Some are the same as mine pointing out the errors. But vast majority of the comments and linkbacks are positive responses lauding how cool and interesting the website is. These positive comments are right after comments that clearly document the massive errors of the map.

This says about something about society and our relationship with information. People are so eager to be amused/informed that even after being told the information is false, they either disregard the correction, don't care, or don't identify the validity of new correct information. I am certain I have fallen victim to misinformation a time or two. I bet we all have. Healthy skepticism should be encouraged and taught.

It is kind of scary how misinformation is played in our society- and the best example is what has been pulled over the country and the mess we have gotten into over the past six years. Misinformation comes in many forms from the relatively benign like this GNP map comparison to more cutting truths with far greater consequences. Unfortunately this is a part of mankind historically from Holocaust deniers to the supposed truths that society accepted on slavery at one time. It is interesting to see how the little roots of misinformation works and sad how people are pointing to this site as accurate information.

Friday, June 22, 2007

My Grandma has inspired me to open a Tea Room

I have been inspired.

Yesterday I took my Grandmother out to lunch for her 94th birthday. Elaine, my mother's mother. She is the best. Soon after we moved to the STL she moved her to help raise me. If there is any polish to my character, she is responsible. She is very proper, hard working and very sweet. She still "works" at my mother's house. She gives herself shifts each week to help my folks in their house. Grandma takes care of the dogs, waters the garden and does light chores around the house. She looks forward to this. She lives in the neighborhood in her own apartment and she even drives to my parents house. She is amazingly self sufficient. She does her own food shopping, banking, gets her hair did and pretty much any errand as long as it is during the day and in the neighborhood.

Every week I take her out to lunch. Sometimes it is hard to find a new place to take a discerning woman like my grandmother. I take her to a wide array of spots around town. Yesterday I took her to one of her favorite places. The Saint Louis Tea Room. This place is in the most unlikely of locations- south of TG Park on Roger and Utah in the middle of the neighborhood in an unassuming single story corner building. Joining me at the lunch were some friends that helped celebrate my Grandmother's birthday. Courtney Jackson, Tilnise Scott, Tom Weber and Amy Johnson. Perfect associates for a tea with Grandma.

The place is fantastic. Granted, I have not really been to many tea rooms. I have taken my Grandmother to tea at the Adam's Mark and other hotels. I have been to country food places, but a tea room is different. The food was actually really good. Brandied steak medallions. Fresh fuit salads. Homemade scones, w/ wine jelly, fresh butter and fresh whipped butter cream. Great soup- cream of asparagus, lobster bisque and more. Vegetable sides. I am not much of a food reviewer, but I can say without a doubt that the eats are quality and can work for any appetite, not just Grandmas. And the tea- like my place, they have a special menu for their drinks. They have caffeine infused drinks instead of booze. It was my Grandma's birthday and they brought her a pot of birthday tea.

Everyone looked at the tea pot and started to laugh. It was in a clear glass pot and had a large, er, tea bud, floating at the top of the water. The bud looked rather nefarious for such a proper setting. We couldn't say anything for nearly a minute for it looked so... um.

Tilnise couldn't help herself and commented "Wow, that tea looks quite kind."

Eventually the bud opened up in the water and sunk to the bottom. In the middle of the tea bud was a flower. It was beautiful and delicous. The service was impeccable, the food was paced and the tea pot was always full. Grandma has a splendid time.

What takes the place as a must experience is the atmosphere. The place is not the super fine proper high end tea, instead it is homey proper. It feels like you are in a craft loving, cozy making, tea drinking grandma's house. Tilnise commented that the servers look like her Holly Hobbie doll. And after looking up Holly Hobbie, she is correct. The walls are lined w/ tea pots, knick knacks, figurines of all types, cozy covers, pot holders and such. In the front there is a store with grandma style sundries including chocolates, teas and more cozies.

The high point of the lunch was the story. As we finished up our lunch, the waitress comes by and tells us a story out of a book. They are the old world type of stories that include a moral and included royalty. But it didn't stop there. On our way out I overheard the chef talking to a table. She said "We have a different place here. Our kitchen is different. We don't use wirty dords in the back." I nearly fell over. I need to have a place where that code is in effect.

I want to open a tea room. Maybe not for my next project, but I someday want to be involved in opening a tea room. It is an essential element of a civilized and balanced nieghborhood. Not only should every balanced neighbohood have a corner tavern, a bank and a church but everyone should have tea room they can walk to. So if you live on the southside, you should consider preambulating your way to the Saint Louis Tea Room.

Happy birthday Grandma.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Father's Day Soccer Special

From Coach Akita:

Father Day's Soccer Special

STL United FC, a no-cost soccer team for South City youths, will play a scrimmage against the Metro Strikers, a county-based select team, this Sunday, June 17. The game, which is being sponsored by The Royale Food Spirits, will be held at the historic Msgr. Mullally Field* at St. Mary Magdalen's athletic complex at 5 p.m.; the facility is located about 50 yards east of the Avalon Theater, just behind the intersection of Kingshighway and Chippewa, via Mullally Drive.

For info on STL United FC, please check the club's website: www.stlunitedfc.net. Click on the youth team link.

The Royale, 3132 S. Kingshighway, has donated the facility fee for this match to be played, between kids in the U-13 age group.

* Pele played there, so this isn't hyperbole.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Ah, an old pic

So my buddy Darren O'Brien emailed me this photo he found last week. This is a great shot of Thomas "Akita" Crone squaring off against Dominic "The U-Town Beatdown" Robinson. This match was in March of 2003 at City Museum. That is my father, the referee.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The River

Yesterday I skipped rocks on the Mississippi River. It was fantastic. So fun.

It is all about finding the right rocks.

I would like to thank Brett Underwood for inviting me to go to New Brussels Illinois.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

My old man is funny

Most people know this. My father is a funny guy. He is a great guy. I am a lucky kid to have him as a father.

Last week my father went out front to take a look at the motorcycles. We have the motorcycles park out on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. Last week one of the bikes was a Harley Davidson. My father was taking a peek at the bike and the owner came out. My father recognizes the man standing next to the bike as the probable owner of the bike.

"That is a nice bike."

"Ooooo yeah. It is a real hog. Do you ride?"

"I do. I got a 650 Honda Hawk."

"Heh heh. So when are you going to get a real bike?"

"Oh, I like the Hawk. It is smaller, fast and a real joy to ride."

My father walks around the Harley riders bike and tries to steer the conversation back toward the patron's bike.

"So how does this thing run on the highway?"

"She rolls great. So it must be your wife eh?"

"Pardon me?"

"Your old lady must be keeping you from getting a hog. Heh heh."

"No, no, I like my Honda. It is a sweet bike. I have had quite a few."

This is all pretty funny. My mother does not approve of the motorcycles. She never did ever since we started riding fifteen years ago. She has no interest in riding on the bikes.

So this guy kept pushing my father about all sorts of things. My father is a sharp guy.

"So is this your place?"

"It is in the family."

"Heh heh. I heard this was a gay bar. It must be. Heh heh."

"Well, we are not really a gay bar. We are open to all sorts of people and all are welcome."

The man starts to glare at my father. My dad continues;

"But if you are looking for a 'gay' bar, I think there might be some up Kingshighway and over on Manchester."

The man grunted and glared at my father as he smiled and looked at his Harley.

Side note:

All people who ride motorbikes are welcome on Wednesday nights at the Royale. The Saint Louis Vintage Motorcycle Club meets every Wednesday night, usually after 8 or 8:30. We have free sodas and specials for all those on motorcycles that night. Just park on the sidewalk. Also- the guy in the story above was not one of the Wednesday night crew.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Enhancing the neighborhood

There has been a lot of talk about the impact of businesses like mine in the city. And people like to talk trash a lot saying businesses like mine have a negative impact in the neighborhood. It is nice to hear sometimes about how my business has enhanced the community and value of homes in South City.

So my folks are looking for a house closer to the Royale and this is what my mother randomly found on Craigslist:

* * Rehabbed home walking distance from The Royale & Tower Grove Park!

****Updated Side Note 6/3*****

For points of clarification after many repeated questions and misconceptions- once a liquor license is petitioned, the guidelines and signatures are obtained, two mailings are made to the neighbors, NSO, Alderman and Police Captians are notified and it is approved after a public hearing the license cannot be transferred under any circumstances. If you buy an exisiting bar you must go through the entire licensing process for a new license as if you were obtaining a new license at a location that does not have a bar/restaurant that serves liquor. You cannot inherit a license. Even a 5% ownership change requires a new license application.

To pull a liquor license the standards are much lower- and hearings can be brought up at any time with a much lower bar than it takes to obtain a license.