The local public radio station here – in concert with all the other public radio stations across this blessed land of ours – is having their fall pledge drive this week. And I am defiantly not pledging to support. I am willfully and maliciously denying them my dollars and support, in spite of all their blandishments and incessant, unrelenting guilt trips. This, in spite of the fact that I worked part-time for the classical music side of that enterprise some decades past, before all the part-time announcers were let go. I thought for weeks that it was only me, that my announcing work was unsat. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been surprised if that was the reason, as I had gone very rote and mechanical over announcing the name of the piece of music up next, the composer and performing orchestra or soloist, and throwing in a bit of relevant information about the piece. No, it wasn’t me, as I later found out; they left all the other part-time shift announcers go – the girl who worked during the week at an animal shelter, the woman who was a mainstay of the local little theater group, the guy who was a full-time writer for various little local publications. All of us were served notice; a kind of Friday Night employment massacre.
We took Wee Jamie on another road trip, this last weekend. My daughter and I have decided that we should dedicate one day a week to “Not Doing Work Stuff” – and have an outing of at least half a day, doing something … something diverting. This long weekend demanded a whole day of ‘Not Doing Work Stuff.’ My daughter suggested a road trip to Fredericksburg, and I thought that we should check out the Museum of the Pacific War, as it has been at least five years since I visited it. It was indisputably the last war which we won, after all. The first time I went to the War Museum was maybe in 1995 – when it was all still contained in the old Nimitz Hotel on Main Street, and an annex down the road – IIRC, a side-less pole barn. (And Fredericksburg was still a sleepy little town with an attractive Main Street, with local-oriented business situated in profitable commercial real estate, where they tended to close shop and roll up the sidewalks at about 5 PM. Well, that has come to a screeching halt, I assure you.)
We took the back way, to Fredericksburg, after stopping at a local restaurant for a breakfast which turned out to be more substantial than expected – a local outlet for the Maple Biscuit Company. The fresh-squeeze orange juice was fantastic, and yes, I would know about all that, having grown up with orange trees in the back yard. The biscuits and sausage gravy were so generous and so good that we were resolved to split an order next time. (This was the last place I saw anyone wearing a mask, BTW. The staff were all masked-up.) The back way to Fredericksburg meant driving up 281 to Johnson City, passing memories all the way; Blanco, where we had done market events at the Old Courthouse, and where once we scored some amazing deals at an estate sale at an old house just off the highway. Johnson City, where we had a wonderfully fun three-day long market one year, for the lighting of the Courthouse, the weekend after Thanksgiving. (We had to stay two nights for that in a cabin at the Miller Creek RV resort, which meant that we barely broke even.)
Johnson City, when I first went through in the late 1990s, was sad and depressing in comparison to Fredericksburg. It seemed to be hanging on based on the relation to LBJ, the Johnson ranch and various residences where LBJ’s family had lived. Now it is the beginning of the Texas Wine Road and has a new lease on tourist life. Some years ago, I had suggested that the Hill Country had all the components save castles, villas, and quaint hilltop towns to become the New Provence, since they produce such Frenchified specialty items as lavender, wine, olive oil, goat milk cheeses … and wine. Oh my gosh, have they gone into producing wine. Someone has even built a castle! The usual maps of the Texas Wine Road usually include only the top twelve or fifteen of the biggest and most well-established of the wineries along 290 – or at least, those with the flashiest central building. As we discovered, just about every commercial or retail business along that road was posted as a winery, and even a couple of places, like Wildseed Farms, which initially specialized in some other commodity – like peaches or wildflower seeds – had added on a wine tasting room. If you started at the two wineries just outside Johnson City to the south and stopped at every single winery or tasting room and had a single glass … your liver would be screaming for mercy when you got to Stonewall, and you’d be on the list for a liver transplant once you got beyond Fredericksburg itself.
So, by a curious coincidence, my address has been tagged by a long-time and established polling organization, to receive increasingly plaintive pleas for any adult in the household to participate in whatever line of questioning on important matters which they have been asked to research. I guess that someone doing basic research has tagged my residence as representative of a demographic, based on value of home, area of address, ethnic background, income, education, profession … or whatever judgment is used to select respondents for national surveys. One of those mailers even included a $5 bill as token of earnest intent. I pocketed the bill – hey, five bucks that I didn’t have before – and threw the rest of it in the recycle bin.
Time was when I would have been Nancy Nice Person and signed on to give my opinion – hey, I signed up to review movies and books, yea these many years ago, mostly for the freebies which that exercise offered, and once again to give judgment on various surveys that my local grocery store chain offers (in hope of scoring one of those drawings for gift cards) but all that is merely a matter of consumer aesthetics and tastes. This polling enterprise is on a whole ‘nother level. It may touch on the political, and that – like the electrified rail in subway routes – is a thing that I will not venture in these present times. Although I post here, on matters social and political, it is not with my given legal name and residential address firmly attached to said opinions and comment.
Most problems were not problems long enough to be interesting.
— Larry Niven, PROTECTOR
Haiti has remained a problem long enough to be interesting.
I have had some first world problems for a while now.
Last night at the grocery store (Kroger chain) there was no iceburg lettuce. Zero. I resigned myself to paying the fifty cents more for the leaf lettuce. Iceberg lettuce has been of pretty poor quality in these parts for some time and I have seen small quantities or none at all as of the last few months.
Berries – I always toss a hand full of berries onto my shredded wheat every morning and the berry selection at the store has been awful or non existent as of late. I’m hoping that Michigan has a fantastic harvest (probably going on right now or very soon) as we are quite fond of the blueberries, apples, peaches, and other things that come from across the lake. We may even take a short road trip over there and pick up a bunch of stuff ourselves. But back to the berries. I have seen blueberries from all over the USA in the store (I always look at where my produce comes from) and also Mexico and a few other places. I wonder if there is some sort of supply chain disruption in berry world.
Anyways, let me know in the comments if you are seeing things missing, and don’t limit it to groceries if you don’t want to.
In industrial distribution world, we are still missing quite a few things but this is almost all a chip deal now. And the good news is that we are doing pretty well for the most part.