Cheese curds at Kroger

We want Kroger to carry cheese curds. We think you do too. Every cheese counter has a Customer Feedback thingie. My cheeseologists at the Englewood, OH store says the manager looks at these.

So, could you all request cheese curds the next time you stop in at a Kroger? I’ll bet by the time the Packers are in the 2012 Super Bowl, we’ll see cheese curds at Kroger. And the rest of the year, all our Canadian friends can make poutine.

Cheese Curds

Dog Days at JD Custard

On July 17, JD Custard is celebrating Dog Days of Summer. Show up, have some great custard and each dog receives a free Dogwich.

Hours are 12:00 noon until 10:00 pm in Englewood. Take a picture of your dog eating his/her favorite JD Custard treat and share it on their Facebook page.

Be sure to follow @jdcustard on twitter too.

Custard makes you cute. It makes your dog even cuter. Really. (ok, not really.. our lawyers made us say that.)

How I know bigotry is alive in Middle America

I was passing through the playground at a nearby school in Englewood, Ohio. Sallie had climbed up the stairs that ended in a tube slide and I thought it might be cool if I encouraged her to slide down.

So, I poked my head in on the bottom side so I could see her at the top to talk her down. My eye caught the graffiti on the inside top of the slide.

I took a photo of it and it is posted below.

In case it is hard to read, the words “I [heart] lesbos” is etched into the plastic.

The media of the east and west coasts may have convinced themselves that bigotry and hatred are dead in America — especially with the eager adoption of gay marriage and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — but what kids scratch into the inside of playground equipment tells me we have a very, very long way to go.

They learn this from somewhere.

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I sure do miss the smell of horse dung

typical white christian American family

Last year, an acquaintance who has a part-time firefighter job, supplemented by a full-time ambulance driver job with no health benefits had to go to the emergency room with asthma complications. The hospital ended up having to admit him for three days. The total cost of this unplanned vacation was $23,000 and some change.

He had no insurance and he did not have $23,000. He applied for Medicaid, went through some hearings, some denials, appeals and eventually Medicaid paid the bill.

He is a Republican through and through. When asked how he liked his socialist benefits provided by his government, he smiled sheepishly and looked away. He was caught in a lie and he and I both knew it. He is still a Republican. Having his medical bills paid for through no personal merit or responsibility did not change his mind one bit about his political loyalties or the argument for his loyalties.

And that is when it hit me solidly: The GOP is not about fiscal responsibility. They are entirely about social issues.

A little background
My friend was raised in the rural parts of Ohio, right outside my town of Englewood which is ten miles north of Dayton, sixty-five miles north of Cincinnati. So he wasn’t actually raised out on the farm, but enough where there is little if any diversity and no weird artsy-fartsy types with book-leraning and such. The men hunt every fall, fish in the summer, drink beer, watch football and chew tobacco. And the women tend to their men. And everybody goes to church on Sunday and if they don’t, they still believe in Jesus Christ. (Really, these places exist not too far out your front door, wherever in America you are.)

And this is also where they talk openly about “how in the hell we let a g*d**n n****r in the White House” right before they spit chew violently on the ground in disgust.

How we got here
The GOP has gotten its followers to believe and say there is a finite amount of money available and that your ne’er-do-well, slacker neighbors are taking your fair share of your hard-earned money. Only it’s not really true. It’s not what they really mean when they say “money.” Money is just code for “my white Christian culture.”

The Greatest Generation were better storytellers than they were social engineers. When the men went off to war, they brought back stories of valor, courage, bravery, camaraderie and honor. My grandfather never talked much about the War. My dad never talked about the Korean War either. All we had were photos, medals and a few stories of good times with their buddies. They never talked about the horror of seeing their friends die or body parts getting blown off. When they came home, they put the past behind them and created a narrative that was peaceful and prosperous, even though it was not the truth.

Women who went off to work in the factories did much the same thing. It was hard, back-breaking, grueling, greasy, filthy work but when it was over, it was over. They did not tell stories of workplace accidents, the long days and the restless nights. They spun yarns of achievement, honor and patriotism.

And three generations later, that is how we remember the past that never was. Families lived in harmonious, quiet neighborhoods with houses all lined up on clean streets. The dad went off to work, the mom stayed home and kept house. There were regular raises and good benefits at his job. The kids played baseball, went to school and played stickball in the middle of the street. When they grew older, the kids went out on dates, got married and had kids of their own.

Each year, the family would get together and have Thanksgiving dinner, then Christmas and celebrate Easter in the spring. There would be great news of babies and marriages and of course of deaths and funerals. Everyone married a virgin, everyone died at peace. This all played out like some great movie with a well-crafted script. There were things nobody talked about and everybody knew what those things were.

And the children forgot about the struggle the previous generations went through to build this Great Lie. The storytellers of television and the movies gladly filled in the gaps, fueling an even more memorable past that never was.

The Great Lie of our American Dream is even embedded into our future. The following is a video made by Corning. The cues of the Dream are embedded everywhere across generations. Take a look. Can you see them? Do you find yourself wanting to be there? It’s a powerful Dream.

The past is knowable and comfortable. The future is scary. I’m fairly certain in a generation back there were old men who sighed wistfully as a truck blowing smoke passed them by on a farm road. Sure do miss the smell of horse dung, they might be thinking.

Money as a mask
We use price as an excuse for almost every human behavior. If we don’t really want to buy something, we say “that costs too much” or “I don’t have the money right now.” When we really want something, we find a way to get it by charging it, putting it on layaway, leasing it or in the case of a house, commit to mortgage terms that are not in our financial best interest. We rationalize a debt to get the things that we really want.

The GOP understands this about human nature — and particularly the American culture — very well and has masterfully crafted its message around money. “The state is broke,” they rail when a program is funding issues that are contrary to the Great Lie. “Our country is going bankrupt!” “Limited government” and “Take back our country” are all very attractive catch phrases for a population that has been led to believe that the supply of money is finite and being spent irresponsibly by your drunken neighbor. After all, many of these people don’t have much left from their paychecks at the end of the week, so it all makes common sense.

Everything the GOP wants to do is masked as a money issue because they know that American culture understands money. All this other stuff about happiness and rights and liberty is so hard to quantify. But money is easy. You can count money.

The inconsistency is the key
The key to understanding why money and fiscal responsibility is not the real issue is the inconsistency between what a conservative says and what he does. He will take a Medicaid handout to keep from paying a $23,000 hospital bill. He will take a government-supplied paycheck as a firefighter. He will take a home interest deduction on his taxes, a Pell grant from the Federal government, drive on the freeway system without paying a toll, attend a public school and do all these things as if it were his right to do so all the while saying we need less government. Taxes pay for all these things that give him a standard of living yet he perceives to have gotten these things through his own hard work and initiative.

And my favorite inconsistency of all, “Keep your government hands of my Medicare.”

The GOP knows that if they keep the discussion framed as “fiscal responsibility,” they don’t have to address all those other messy issues that go along with promoting the Great American Dream that never was. All they need do is step back in shock about why someone would not want to be fiscally responsible and they win the argument. Only the argument never really was about money. It never will be.

What’s in it for the GOP?
Power, I imagine. I can’t think of any other reason why someone would care more about the state budget being balanced than the health of their own household. Maybe some of these politicians really believe the rhetoric about fiscal responsibility, but I doubt many retain it. I think most of them are angry that not only have they lost their birthright, but it was stolen from them. They see political office as a way to take it back.

The GOP may have been about fiscal responsibility at some point in their distant past, but I think they have always been more about preserving the American Culture. As they become more and more desperate about preserving the Dream, the more they are letting their mask fall away. But judging from my friend above, they may think they can now afford to do it and start being honest about who they really are. Apparently lying about their true intent bears no consequence as at least half the country is one of them.

Am I off the mark here?

Fire for hire; the new public services

I read a rather dry account of the last Union, Ohio city council meeting in the Dayton Daily News this morning. Nobody goes to these things and fewer people read the articles recapping them. But maybe we should start paying more attention. (I looked for the article online and could not find it, so I scanned it here and will replace with a link when it gets posted.)

Here is why we should start paying attention.

Fire and police departments are receiving less tax revenue and are set to receive even less for salaries when bills like SB 5 pass. But they are still expected to be on the other end of a 911 call. (I think the City of Englewood has a EMS charge, but not fire.) It appears the City of Union would charge for police, fire and EMS services; first to your insurance company and if they don’t pay, to you.

I understand subrogation and why sometimes it is necessary. But when someone calls 911, the last thing they should be thinking is; “Can I afford this call?” If their house burns down, and they are insured, the insurance company will replace it. If their house catches fire, the fire department comes out, and the insurance company will pay for repairs but not fire services, the homeowner could end up paying a whole lot more than the house is worth in fire-fighting fees.

I think the last thing we need is for a family to be sitting on the front lawn with a calculator, estimating how much a 911 call is going to cost and whether or not it is worth it.

In truth, though, what these laws will eventually do is increase insurance costs. The insurance companies will spread out the risk for everyone, charging people who live in Zip Code 45322 a bit more of course. And since insurance in America is a for-profit game, these additional fees will include the profit expectation a publicly-held company demands. These are also post-tax dollars, so they are about 33% more expensive than an income tax assessment would be to cover the additional cost of fire-fighting services for a community.

Government cuts are always nice, but when your income tax tax bill is cut and your total cost of citizenship rises, where is the savings to the citizens? It’s like buying a really cheap printer but paying hundreds of dollars a year in ink cartridges. Or a really cheap car that costs you the retail prices in repairs every two years. Or buying cheap processed food and paying more than quadruple in medical insurance premiums because your BMI is out of whack (assuming you carry insurance.)

Subrogation for essential emergency services is a very slippery slope. I know that the proposed ordinance is limited to “at-fault” incidents. Anyone who has ever been in an accident knows that at-fault is almost never a 100/0% split. In most instances, you are partially at fault simply because you were on the road. Clearly, if your house was not there, there would be nothing to burn.

Once you crack the door, it is easier to fling open wide.

I wonder what other public service will be next?

When the City of Englewood “saved” a million dollars.
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Our first Winter blizzard in Dayton, Ohio

Ok, ok.. we only got 1.5″ of snow so far, but it could happen still!

Sallie eggs on Charlie until he chases her around the tree at Englewood Hill Elementary School. When he thinks he is smart and changes direction, that just makes Sallie mad and she lets him know it.

It’s their thing 🙂

Why the housing bust is a boon for dogs

It’s been said by someone who probably has no money in the stock market or has not just bought a brand new Apple product that “there is no good or bad news, there is just news. How you see it depends on your perspective.”

And we are choosing to see this housing bust as a HUGE boon for dogs.

In Englewood, Ohio, there are at least three different housing sites where work has stopped abruptly. Over two years ago. And that is good because that means we have at least three dog parks that have paved, subdivision-style roads that lead to large fields filled with tall grasses and lots and lots of plowed up smelly things. In the winter, we have a large expanse of snow and snow hills when the plows just push all the street snow off at the end where there are no houses. Nobody ever bothers us when we’re at one of these “dog parks.”

If you are dog, this housing bust is the best thing to happen in years. Part of me hopes it goes on for a while.

Just thought I would share a small silver-lining in an otherwise gloomy economy. And if you own a dog, have no money and nowhere to go, find a housing sub-division that quit building and make it a dog park. Chances are there is one near you.

Really, it’s ok.

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How do you see your world?

This was Sallie on our walk at the Lunchtime Wrestling Lot yesterday. She spent a lot of time sniffing the new bales of hay that the City of Englewood plopped down next to a Bobcat they were using to scoop up dirt piles alongside the drainage ditch they were lining with concrete. Eventually, they will use the Bobcat to spread some topsoil, lay some grass seed into the soil and spread the hay over the seed so it would grow.

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Questioning the journalistic ethics of Amber Lyon (CNN)

I found myself wide awake at 4:00 am or so last night with no remote in sight and the channel stuck on CNN. Amber Lyon was running a story about Craig’s List and its change from “Adult” to “Censored.” The whole thing ran like a more polished version of James O’Keefe’s “Acorn pimp” video. At about minute 5:00 after the “investigative” part of the story ran, Amber Lyon wrapped it all up and said “don’t question my ethics as a journalist.” The story as it ran on CNN is below.

My canine sense started tingling a bit after hearing this story a few times and watching Ms. Lyon assert her journalistic ethics, so we thought we might just ask a few questions:

– Why did Ms. Lyon inject herself into the story by placing an ad of questionable content on Craig’s List? There were thousands of ads she could have reported on without making a new one. She could have called several hundred and interviewed the person placing the ad, even if the questions were as simple as “how many people responded to your ad?” Out of a hundred ads, 10 or so would probably have gladly answered her questions.

– Why did law enforcement not take action against Ms. Lyon after she clearly admitted to placing an ad of the type she expected law enforcement to take action against?

– Why did Ms. Lyon not interview all law enforcement departments in all areas that Craig’s List ads ran to see if CL notified them of any postings? Interviewing one out-of-context investigator hardly establishes credibility. (Yes, we will be calling the Englewood Police department on Tuesday to see if anyone from CL has reported a postings. We want to be thorough.)

– She said she didn’t ambush Newmark and that she wanted to talk about his speech (6:08) and did no such thing once the cameras were rolling outside. Well, perhaps she led the interview with questions about the speech he just gave, but that is not the part that aired. The part that aired — and Ms. Lyon knew it would — was the part where she waved a printout of the ad in front of him and asked him to explain it, unread and unverified. That is an ambush.

These are just a couple of questions off the top that we think Ms. Lyon should be answering. As the viewing public, we should be questioning the journalistic ethics of reporters all the time, with every story, with every statement.

Just as we intuitively know politicians are lying the minute they say they are not, so too we feel journalists are being unethical the minute they claim to be ethical.

Am I being unfair to Ms. Lyon? Thoughts? (Please, no general statements about the MSM. Generalizations are also almost never credible as well.)

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Dangerous walkway in Englewood, Ohio

There is a walkway path along the Stillwater River in Englewood that connects Grossnickel Park and that new lake along Wenger road. While we generally support walkways in parks, the stretch of walkway that passes underneath Interstate 70 is very, very scary and probably quite unsafe.

Here is a short video of us walking underneath it. Notice the crumbling cement and lack of any containment cage. One of these days, a truck is going to blow a tire and those rubber shreds and steel belts will kill a jogger or dogwalker. Just don’t want it to be me.

I know Englewood is doing a ton of improvements all over the place. Can you send a crew to weld a cage in place? Thanks. I know you have the money because you cashed my tax check.

Dogwiches at JD Custard

We stopped at the JD Custard in Englewood, next to the Oinkadoodlemoo BBQ and they had a sign in the window for some Dogwiches, .39 each or 4.50 for a barkers dozen (clever, right?)

They are two dog biscuits sandwiched with vanilla custard. Me and Sallie could not wait to gobble them up.

Love this kind of thing!

BTW, JD Custard and Oinkadoodlemoo will both be at the adidas Warrior Soccer Classic on Memorial Day weekend at Thomas Cloud Park in Dayton, Ohio, so if you know anyone who is playing in the tournament or you just want to watch some really great youth soccer, stop on by and tell them you saw them at DogWalkBlog.com!

Local Northmont grad plays his first hometown concert

If Austin Hicks has his way you will soon be hearing and seeing a lot of this up-and-coming Country music performer.

The 19-year-old Northmont High School graduate is literally “jumping through the hoops,” doing what it takes to make his way in the world of Country music. That includes hiring an agency to market his music, and moving his base of music operations to the “heart” of Country music — Nashville, Tenn.

Playing his first concert in his hometown of Englewood Sat., May 8, Hicks is trying to make a name for himself locally and nationally.

“This is my dream,” Hicks said during the May 8 concert at Walgreens in Englewood, “It is nice to share my music with the people I grew up with.”

Having released his self-titled album in the fall of 2009, Hicks has seen his dream grow from just being a novice in the business as a high school senior, to being on the cusp of having national radio airplay if the single I Still Pledge Allegiance, a song he penned which is on his debut album.

Hicks recorded that album at Junction Recording Studio in Nashville, Tenn.

“So much is about to take place,” Hicks said.

Signing with the musical agency will help get I Still Pledge Allegiance to about 1,600 Country music radio stations in the United States.

The song, according to his website, www.austinhicks.net, honors “The flag and the men and women who fight to defend it.” Fire Dancer, also off his debut album, has already received radio airplay.

Hicks has seen his concert schedule grow from about 75 dates in 2009 to between 125 and 150 dates in 2010. A national tour is planned for 2010-2011.He has some heavy credentials as well, having opened for the legendary Charlie Daniels in Tampa, Fla.

Still Hicks is staying true to his Christian roots. At the age of three he was touring with his parents Rich and Cavil Hicks, Southern Gospel singers in their own right.
“I grew up singing in church and at local places with my parents,” he said.
“God has opened up so many doors, it is amazing what doors He has opened up,” Hicks added.

Still he may not have ever formed the Rattlesnake River Band, which accompanies him, if his high school football career had blossomed.

“I was very active in sports in high school,” the former Northmont Thunderbolt left tackle said. “But by the end of my junior year I realized I wasn’t going to be playing college football, so I concentrated on the music.”

In 2008 Hicks received a VIP invitation to perform for the producers of the NBC-TV show “Nashville Star” in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. He was a regional finalist but was not included in the show’s actual line-up.

The Rattlesnake River Band consists of Hicks’ younger brother Tyler on lead guitar, his dad Rich on rhythm guitar, Jeff Arnold on bass guitar, and Kody McCoy on drums. The family connection is something Hicks treasures.

“That is what is so special about my musical career,” he said. “It isn’t just my dream, whole family is involved.” His mom Cavil serves as merchandise manager.

The family ties to his career are so strong, brother Tyler decided to be homeschooled during the 2009-2010 school year, by-passing what would have been his senior year on the Northmont campus.

Upcoming area dates to hear Hicks in concert include May 15 at All Sports Bar & Grill in Xenia, May 22 at the Arcanum Old Fashioned Days, June 25 at the London Strawberry Festival, in August he will be playing at the Greene County Fair, and on Aug. 28 he will be at The Greene in Beavercreek. In early June, Hicks will be performing at the CMA Fest in Nashville, a venue he called the largest outdoor Country concert in the country.
In October he hits the road to the Southwest USA, playing at the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., the largest hot air balloon event in the world, as well as Reno, Nev. with stops in Arizona and Texas.

In addition to his website he has a presence on social networking sites Facebook and MySpace.

He will turn 20-years-old in October.

Austin Hicks playing Walgreens Community Day in Englewood, Ohio May 8

Austin Hicks Englewood Ohio

Local country star Austin Hicks will be performing in the Walgreens parking lot in Englewood, Ohio for Community Days on Sat. May 8 at 2:00pm. Austin, 19, is a graduate of the Northmont High School class of 2009.

There will be food, fun and just a good time, so come on down for a few hours to the corner of Wenger and Union, enjoy some live music and conversation. The DogWalkBlog will be out there talking with folks, so if you’ve been a reader, come on out.

And now, for a taste of Austin Hicks and his band: