Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thoughts on Cookie Dough

I was thinking today about how food ingredients change when they are mixed, handled, or have their temperature changed. An egg fried whole is so different from an egged whipped and fried. Cooking adds another level of complexity.  Fresh baked bread is something special but not as good when it has been allowed to sit and cool. Toasting the bread brings out nuances not noticeable when it is just a slice.

Flour, sugar butter, molasses, eggs, and vanilla on their own are questionable but after combining, the mixture is something special. Many of us still can't decide whether cookie dough is better before cooking or after cooking.

People are much the same as the food ingredients. Taken alone they are okay. The outcome differs when they have been been through some sort of process and then have the heat of the world applied than when they have not been prepared. Sitting in front of a sunny window on a bright cold winter day changes us all as we soak in the rays.   Most of all, when we are in community, we become something special as a group and for many we even grow better when the heat is on.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Train Warnings

 I live in an inner ring suburb of Cleveland, yet still hear train horns day and night. The train warnings given when crossing auto roads remains a most appealing and comforting noise. Part of it could be that it is a haunting sound in the distance but it also represents stories in my life.

It probably starts with going to the various train stations in Cleveland to pick up my grandmother who traveled by rail from eastern Pennsylvania. We also traveled by train to eastern Massachusetts to visit my cousins. Traveling east by car for vacations or holidays before the time of interstates, many of the highways followed along train tracks. When you are nearby a moving train especially when you are standing alongside the tracks, the thunder and awe of the tons of mechanical beast takes ones breath away. I also have traveled to both coasts by trains following pathways long established, going to New York City to partake of the activities of that metropolis and going to Chicago and San Francisco.

Trains represent so much in Cleveland, from the manufacturing of the steel and component parts , the manufacturing and repair of the engines, the various railway track lines that intermingled through northeast Ohio. They represent all of the manufacturing that takes place here and that Cleveland is on the pathway to and from many centers of industry in its location as the southern terminus of the Great Lakes. Trains and their tracks also represent the physical connectedness of the country. I look forward to my next train trip. I also take a moment to enjoy the train warning that I hear being blown in to my neighborhood.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Help the Economy: Buy More, Have a Baby

Growing the U.S. economy boils down to depending upon more people buying more stuff.

The economy, in order to grow, needs to have more purchases. To do my part in helping I need to buy more. If each one of us doesn't buy more, then there needs to be more of us. So we are encouraged to have more babies, allow more immigrants, and live longer. If the US population doesn't increase then we depend on the rest of the world to increase in size and desire. If you don't or can't participate then encourage your friends and neighbors to get busy buying and/or having productive sex.

In order to afford to buy more, we need to make more money by producing more goods and services and then sell those to more people.

Manufacturers help people buy more by building in obsolescence or by using marketing to sell stuff not really needed. Politicians help by mandating projects or practices that require spending. Then there is the whole idea to get everyone in the US to buy US goods only and in other countries to also buy US goods and services at the expense of not buying from their own countries.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Out of the Corner of My Eye (fragment)

Out of the corner of my eye
I caught the movement going by.
Did I really see it?
I heard a whisper on the wind,
Or was it just my breath?
I felt the touch on my arm,
It could have been the sun.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Don't Throw Stones to Break More Windows

We live in communities in which there are problems perceived and actual.  How we respond to those problems reflect on us as citizens.  We have choices.

All communities have positive characteristics as well negative. We can choose to do nothing, we can choose to exacerbate the negative, we can work to accentuate the positive, we can work to improve upon the negative, or we can do some combination of any of these.

Recently a fiend of mine wrote a blog commenting on the public relations problem on the community in which both of us live.  Repeating others’ disparaging remarks does not add to the conversation. And repeating remarks that are untrue does not build respect and trust and actually damages those virtues. People strike out in response to anger, strikes which are often misdirected.  Paint the trim, pick up the trash, work with others, or go elsewhere; but don’t throw stones to break more windows.

The community which was being written about was Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I do not feel unsafe in Cleveland Heights. However, I would not go into a bar off the main strip which seems to tolerate misbehavior. The Cedar-Lee neighborhood has not been taken over by thugs. Cleveland Heights is not the most deteriorated suburb.  The Coventry neighborhood survived the removal of the liquor license of Irv’s when that establishment refused to work with the community and allowed serious misbehavior by its clientele. Maybe that is an option to examine here.

Yes, it is frustrating to get a parking ticket but you might as well go to any parking garage and try to sneak out without paying and see what happens. The benefits of going to Nighttown restaurant or the Cedar Lee movie theater and participating in the excitement of a vibrant community are worth paying the meal tab, the price of admission, and a few coins for parking.  Not everybody gets a speeding ticket or a parking ticket, only those people who get caught disobeying the law. There are reasons for speed laws and, if you don’t want a speeding ticket, don’t speed. There are certain intersections where it is unsafe to make a left turn during rush hour and often disruptive.  There are work arounds to those intersections but it might take add extra 15 seconds to your drive.

Any negative publicity is a public relations problem.  Not all public relation problems of a city need to be responded to vociferously but rather by keep doing well those things that one does well, supporting a caring and vibrant community of residents, businesses and visitors.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Good Money, Bad Money, Neutral Money

Every day each one of us buys goods or services from a business. Whether it is electricity, water, groceries, gasoline, meals, or cell phone we have made arrangements for a transfer of our assets to someone else. We all make decisions on the spending of our money, whom do we buy from and is it a want or a need. That decision on where to spend our money may or may not be based on a conscious process but we do need to learn how to think strategically in that decision.

Sometimes it is a decision based on convenience (I don’t have time so I’ll just get something to go from a fast food restaurant), on monopoly (There is only one municipal water provider), on social conscience (As much as possible, I’ll buy from the local farmers’ market), sometimes it is habit (I have always owned Fords), and sometimes its price (It is less expensive for me to get the product from Home Depot).

We can buy from a locally located Fortune 500 company, from a locally owned franchise, from an outside large corporation but with local factories. We can buy from a locally owned retail store that buys locally manufactured goods, we can buy from a locally owned business that imports all of its merchandise. We can buy locally grown or manufactured goods or we can buy goods that are shipped in from miles or continents away. We also can limit the amount of goods we buy to meet our wants. We can change our behaviors so as to reduce our needs.

However we do need to think about what happens to the money we spend. Most of the time there are local employees who receive pay and spend the money on their own needs. The profits are something else. That depends on whether or not the business is owned locally. A large Fortune 500 business may be local but the profits while going to the headquarters here, there is a distribution of money outside the community. Some large businesses distribute monies supporting activities in each community in which they have a presence so as to give back something to those that support them.

There are local businesses which while making money locally, are also involved in businesses outside of the community in which they use the profits from the local activities. Sometimes your own community is the beneficiary of investment by entities from outside of the region. Often there are businesses in your community which sell to people from outside of your region.

Money which comes from outside of your community and is reinvested and spent in your region is good for your region. Money which comes from your community and is spent outside of your region is not good for your region. Money which is earned and spent within the region is somewhat neutral.

Our goal in Economic Development is to increase the good money (money flowing in), decrease the bad money (money flowing out), and increase the speed of the neutral money (money earned and spent locally). This applies whether the region you are talking about is your own family, neighborhood, region, state, or country. The concept is not new but many do not think in these simple terms (simple but not easy).

Where did you spend your money this week?

Friday, September 04, 2009


One of the greatest obstacles for us in moving through life is dealing with fear. We fear our government that might take away rights, force us to pay for something we don’t want, and make us do things we don’t want to do. We fear those who are different from us, who might invade our space, take what we feel belongs to us, and make us uncomfortable. We fear ourselves that our bodies get old and not work as well, our minds lose grasp of thoughts, and we lose the ability to control our environment as much as we would like. We fear that in our communities we will be not taken care of, will be disrespected,and will be forgotten.

So we spend a great deal of time, energy, and money dealing with our fears. We let our fears control us and our relationships with others. Our fears create an isolationism within us. They create a failure to behave in ways that create trust and respect. Our fears compound themselves in us and in others around us.

The fears will always exist but it is in how we acknowledge them, limit them, and use them for positive movement that we are able survive and to grow and sustain community. It is not that we look to others to control our fears for us or that we control others' fears ourselves. Rather than being driven by fear we need to live by a caring relationship with all around us. Our greatest gift is for us to work with others as both a local and a world community to support each other day by day and work together to lessen the grip of fear.