Sunday, January 10, 2010

On The Passing of a Friend Whom I Never Met

It is amazing, at least to me, how much one person can become connected to another even though neither has ever met the other in person. It happens when people connect with one another over distances such as Pen-Pals in days of old, and by way of the Internet today. I never met Clay Bond, I did not even know his name until today. I knew him only as The Right Wing Professor of Right Wing Nation, and as of late by way of his blog Central Pennsylvania Orthodox. His last post, Glorious Nativity, was on December 26. He passed from this earth on January 7 a victim of cancer. Hopefully his blogs will remain in place for some time to come so others can enjoy his wit, his insight, his politics, his love of sports, his support for our troops and love of country, his outlook on the big and little things in life and on life itself, and the courage with which he faced impending and certain death and told us the details. If the comments sections of his blogs, and his link list (see the link list he had on his Right Wing nation blog) are any indication, then he was affected by and affected a very large number of people though his Internet connections. He was, as an old time saying goes: A Man Among Men and an honorable one at that.

I would have liked to have met him in person, he lived in Pennsylvania, it could have been a day trip to meet at a range, or maybe for a coffee or a beer somewhere. I guess that opportunity is lost to me. If you get such an opportunity, to meet someone you want to meet, jump at it or face the prospect of waking up one day and finding out it is too late. He will be missed.

My condolences to his family, loved ones and friends.

All the best,
Glenn B

Phoenix - 2nd Impressions - Getting Better

Well, I stand by my first impressions of the City of Phoenix at least with regard to it not having what I would consider a centralized heart of the city kind of a thing. It makes for a sterile or cold feeling (even though the temps have been quite warm compared to what I am used to in January). That may all be because I am used to the hustle and bustle of more densely populated areas, or maybe because Phoenix is really spread out even where sort of centralized.

I also stand by my assessment of some of the drivers in the state of AZ. It seems there are a group of them who go out of their way to be jerks and who instead of giving other drivers a break try to screw them. The amount of drivers like that seems inordinate compared to all the rest of the drivers here and in other places where I have driven - even NYC.

So what is there on which to dwell any further in my assessment of this city. Well, there is the people of Phoenix and the surrounding areas. The cultural mix is one made up mostly of Western Europeans, Hispanics, American Indians, and African Americans. So far, my dealings with almost anyone I have met have been pleasant. People I have dealt with in businesses such as restaurants, supermarkets, other retail stores are all pretty polite or have been so to me. That does a good amount to make up for the small group of psycho drivers (and they are a small group compared to all of the drivers here, just rather large when compared to their own kind elsewhere) and to make up for the lack of a soul of the city caused by all of the urban sprawl without any apparent (or very few apparent) neighborhood centers (other than shopping centers or malls).

Some of the places to which I have been to date should get some special recognition for one thing or another. I wish I could remember all of the names of the restaurants in which I have eaten but I don't. I'll take better care I the future so I can report on them here. I will mention a couple of bars I have visited. As usual, they are often the warmest places one can visit when in a city that is foreign to the traveler; they can also be the harshest of places to visit. Lucky for me, the former was the case with each I have enjoyed to date.

I highly recommend The Turf Restaurant & Pub on 1st Street in the downtown area (or maybe its on the edge of the down town area). It is run, if I got it right, by an Irish American gentleman. They have a pretty good selection of beers, ales and ciders, and a good selection of hard liquor. They have more scotches and Irish Whiskeys than you normally see at 5 bars combined but alas no Knappogue Castle Single Malt Irish Whiskey (my favorite hard spirit). When I asked about it the bartender wrote down the name of it to ask the owner if he could get it. That would be a treat for me as I am trying to keep beer, ales and ciders to a minimum now that I have started a diet. Whiskey does not contain any carbohydrates, it can go well with dieting so long as you do not drink to excess thereby losing your inhibitions and then stuffing yourself with bar food. As far as their food goes, I have not tried it yet. I am working late and think the kitchen has been closed when I have arrived there. So far the best bartender I have met in Phoenix works at this place, a hat tip to Aaron - he pours decent to excellent pint of Guinness although I'd rather be, and had been, drinking the Magner's Cider or the Franziskaner Hefe Weisse Bier (but alas the diet so it has to be limited from now on and whiskey may be the required spirit for the duration with a break now and then for a pint of something heavier).

I also hit up another Irish pub, Seamus McCaffrey's Irish Pub & Restaurant, this one in central downtown on Monroe Street. I paid more attention to the Scotch selection in this bar and think they may have the edge over The Turf, that even though I was told they are owned by the same publican. It too has a restaurant which I did not yet have the chance to enjoy, and also had a good selection of beers, ales, ciders and harder spirits. Looks like a good place to spend part of a Friday night, so long as the other part is spent at The Turf .

As far as eating out goes, I did some so far but have been eating my own cooking too. for the My own cooking has consisted of things like a pork roast & chicken thigh combo with 3 or 4 different kinds of onions, 3 different kinds of mini-potatoes (including one with black skin and purple flesh) and a few seasonings (garlic powder, salt, pepper and cinnamon powder) all slow roasted in a pot (or should I say stewed). Mmmmm - good. Like I said, as far as restaurants go, I cannot remember the names, but I will post about them when they do come to mind or after I visit them again and remember to ask for a business card from each. So far the best by far has been a Vietnamese Restaurant where some coworkers and I enjoyed for lunch one day. Funny, I work in and live close to NYC with its wide variety of restaurants and do not remember ever eating in a Vietnamese restaurant before despite always having meant to do so. I'll tell you more about my experience there when i get the name of the place. Pretty much good news on a Thai restaurant in which we had lunch; a good experience in both.

Next weekend, I will probably do another review of bars and restaurants that I visit during the upcoming week and tell you more about the feel I have developed for the city of Phoenix. I also hope to get out and about to some other not too distant berg and the local countryside to see what I can see, enjoy what I can enjoy, and just get to know more of what I can get to know. Once I know about it, I;ll let you know too. Hopefully I'll find a nice Hofbrau Haus to tell you all about.

All the best,
Glenn B