Every now and then I find a blog post from a random person that really resonates. I swear, I've had this exact conversation with my friend Jay at least half a dozen times in the past two years.
My moment of revelation on this topic came the day I heard myself say "I hope this is a sit-down concert."
So I haven't written much about my employment situation since last summer, when I ranted and raved about the joys of self employment. In the time since that song-inspiring post I have recanted my words and taken on a full-time developer position with a former client of mine. Without getting into all the potentially boring legal details, the Institute for Justice is a non-profit, public interest law firm headquartered in our nation's capital. They basically sue the government at the local, state, and federal level on behalf of individuals in need of protection, primarily in the areas of property rights, first amendment, school choice, and economic liberty issues. They're probably most well known for arguing the historic Kelo v. New London case in front of the Supreme Court.
At this point I'm sure I've lost half of my audience who didn't make it much past "boring legal details." To the other two readers, I wanted to share the latest project I've been working on at IJ. Less than two weeks from now, June 23, is the three-year anniversary of that Supreme Court decision, which came back in favor of the city of New London government. That decision basically laid the groundwork got what today allows the government to take any private property it wishes and transfer ownership to another private party for their own profit. People are generally aware of the term eminent domain, which most people understand to mean that the government can take your property to build roads, bridges, etc. But this Supreme Court decision basically expanded that governmental power to include the right to take private property if it is believed the land could be "better used" by another party. And "better used" can simply mean a business that will generate more taxes. I hope you agree that this is clear violation of the intent of the constitution and, frankly, just isn't right.
To get to the point, IJ has declared Monday, June 23 Kelo Day and is asking for help in raising awareness for this issue. We are hoping to get 10,000 individuals, representing each of the 10,000 documented abuses of eminent domain that have occurred during the five-year period surrounding the Kelo case, to made any contribution to the Institute for Justice's property rights campaign. We're going for volume of donations here, not necessarily big-buck donations. Even a $1 donation gets us one voice closer to our 10,000-participant goal.
If you're up for it, head over to http://www.ij.org/KeloDay and pledge your support.
Oh, and I built that pledge form, by the way. Pretty great, huh?
Traditionally, my Saturday morning routine has consisted of sleeping until eleven, wandering downstairs for some coffee, and then watching TV until it's time for my mid-afternoon nap. And by "nap," I of course mean "two hour sleep." And I wonder why the weekend is never long enough.
In an effort to get the weekend started at a more reasonable hour, I've been meeting up with friends Jay and Cameron on Saturdays for breakfast over the past several months. Not only has this given us a more productive Saturday, but it gives us a chance to catch up on a regular basis, despite Jay's busy workload and Cameron's now-successfully-defended thesis and the impending arrival of his first child. And we get to eat breakfast. I love breakfast. I would eat it three times a day, were it socially acceptable to do so.
Over the course of our breakfast excursions, we've been making an effort to patronize locally-owned eateries over the big-chain style restaurants. After the obvious selections were visited, we had a little trouble finding some of the smaller, less-well-known locations to check out. As chock-full-of-useless-information as the internet is, apparently there isn't much of a good reference for smaller breakfast places in Columbus available. I'm going to try to make an effort to fill this gap by sharing our breakfast adventures here.
This past Saturday, on the recommendation of Cameron's dad, we visited Marshall's Restaurant in Grandview. Marshall's is a bit of a strange place, as when you first walk in you're given more the impression of a semi-trendy restaurant / nightclub than that of a place the serves biscuits and gravy. It almost looks like two different restaurants are missing their adjoining wall. Apparently Marshall's does serve standard bar food and drinks during the evening hours and has been bestowed with such accolades as "Best Single's Scene" and "Best Martini." By whom, I'm not exactly sure, as their website doesn't really go into details on that. I can't speak to that directly, as I opted for coffee over a martini, and the "single's scene" has never really been my niche.
As to the breakfast, I think the three of us agreed that it was definitely in the top tier of places we've visited so far. Jay and I showed up a bit before Cameron and were immediately seated, which is rare for a Saturday morning. While the coffee wasn't the best I've had, I'm admittedly a bit of a coffee snob. Adding a little cream and sugar brought it right up to par with most breakfast places' offerings. I'll give you fair warning, however: there is a reason that there is no breakfast plate on the menu that has both pancakes and hash browns. Jay and I both made the mistake of ordering the #3 plate (two eggs, two pancakes, and side of meat) plus a side of home fries. Someone should have warned us that the pancakes were approximately a foot in diameter. Needless to say, we were more wasteful than we usually are that morning.
On that note, Jay made a very good point in discussing our proposed reviewing system, and that is the need to classify the different styles of hash browns. Or "home fries" as the southern folks may call them. Just about every breakfast restaurant serves something called "home fries" or "hash browns," but what you end up getting can vary widely. Marshall's version of "home fries" are basically the fried potato cube variety as opposed to the shredded potato kind. And they're plentiful, just like the pancakes.
At the end of the breakfast, everyone was full and the restaurant was starting to fill up. Apparently with marathon runners? Marshall's certainly wasn't the greasiest restaurant we've been to yet, but I was a bit surprised to see that many apparently-health-conscious people there. Maybe there are some options on the menu that are more healthy than the "giant stack of pancakes" platter i opted for.
But I, for one, will never know.
1105 W 1st Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43212
This past weekend we celebrated a watershed event in my life: The final days of my twenties. And we celebrated this momentous weekend in the most appropriate way possible -- gathering all my friends in one place and pretending like we were rock stars. That's right, I'm talking about Rock Band.
I've been a fan of the Guitar Hero series of games for several years now, but I was skeptical about how well the concept would translate into a "full-band" approach. I had heard the reports and read the reviews, but I still wasn't sure how well it would work. We took a chance, though, and picked up the full set as my birthday present. It turns out that my fears were completely unfounded; Rock Band is a lot of fun, especially when you get a bunch of friends in on every instrument. Whaling away on the drums is at the same time challenging, fun, and exhausting. I completely understand why real drummers are always the sweatiest of the band at the end of a show.
So with the rock star simulator acquired and tested, January also took the risky step of organizing a 30th birthday party for me this past weekend. If you know me, and I'm guessing you do, you know that I don't really like to be anywhere near the center of attention, so a party thrown in my honor is a bold move. It went off without a hitch, as there were plenty of distractions to keep party-goers attention, including an array of mini-mexican treats, a custom-made tabletop beer taper courtesy of Josh Matko and of course rock band. Cameron and Jay were also, somehow, able to get their hands on a copy of Mario Kart Wii for us to try out, even though it wasn't being released until the day after the party. I was also honored by the attendance of Bhouse and Gavette, direct from Chicago. These guys took the six hour drive just to hang out for the evening, which was an awesome surprise and really made the evening great.
In keeping with the Rock and Roll theme, I put together a two-disc compilation of favorite songs from each year I've been alive. They went quick, so I thought I'd put a copy of the playlist up here for anyone who wasn't able to make it to the party or who missed out on the CD version. Enjoy!