Twist on 4th St.

Went to Twist for a birthday party last week. Somehow ended up ordering Sarah a $12 glass of wine. Dammit. C'est la vie.

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What Message Does Cincinnati Send?

I've linked to Paul Graham before. In Cities and Ambition, he says:

Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder.

How much does it matter what message a city sends? Empirically, the answer seems to be: a lot. You might think that if you had enough strength of mind to do great things, you'd be able to transcend your environment. Where you live should make at most a couple percent difference. But if you look at the historical evidence, it seems to matter more than that. Most people who did great things were clumped together in a few places where that sort of thing was done at the time.

No matter how determined you are, it's hard not to be influenced by the people around you. It's not so much that you do whatever a city expects of you, but that you get discouraged when no one around you cares about the same things you do.
I wonder what message Cincinnati sends?

No Dial-Up For You

From CityBeat:

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Web site has experienced a double-digit drop in traffic since its parent company recently forced a format change that many users have complained is slow and cumbersome.
Slow and cumbersome? Really? I think people are being unreasonable in demanding a website that is not a mile long, does not scroll on forever, and contains less than a whopping 1.1MB of files [YSlow on]. Seriously, people. That's what broadband is for.

In any case, I do not envy print media like Gannett these days. They have their work cut out for them. I believe that "newspapers" will thrive and succeed in the Internet age, but the profits will definitely never be as big, and the newsrooms never be as crowded as they once were. The heyday of newspapers as we are familiar with them are long gone.

But at least they are trying to change, rather than just suing and charging everyone to keep things the same like some industries.

Who... Dey...

The head coach is under attack for some questionable decisions and clock management. The star wide receiver has as many drops as catches. The high-powered offense has scored one touchdown in eight quarters. The defense just lost another starter to a serious injury.
Sound familiar? At first I thought that was about the Bengals, but it's from a story about the Browns. The state of parity in Ohio pro football is strong!

I had a serious post about the Bengals in mind, but really, what's the point?

Mad Max Beyond Walnut Hills

In Mad Max, Mel Gibson wanders a war-ravaged future where fuel has become the only thing of value. Seeing all the long lines at gas stations on the news today sort of reminded me of that. Sort of.

Anyway, since everyone else has been posting their storm photos, I may as well too. We were fortunate enough to not have been affected at all really by the storm. Our cable and internet went out in the early afternoon, and was restored in the late evening. But power never went out. Incredible, considering both streets on either side of us lost their power. And a giant motherf'in tree fell down right in front of our building:

Park Ave. and Victory Pkwy.

Wm. Howard Taft and Park Ave.

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Everyone's Famous! Blogger Bash 2008

It was the second blogger event IRL in almost as many months. Or as Bob put it, Blogger Bash 2008 at AVS ART downtown was another chance for all of us local bloggers to meet and be socially awkward together. This time, Sarah accompanied me.

It was a blast. The keg of Stella didn't hurt either.

There were plenty of people there that I met at the Blogger Convention in July. Chatting with some of them for a second time somehow made a big difference. It was as if now it was confirmed that they were real people, and that the first time was not some huge internet prank on me. So, yeah, it was great to see Dan, Kevin, Shannan, Brian, and of course Bob, who put it all together, again.

There were some folks at the Convention that I did not get to meet then. But recognizing them at least made it easier to introduce myself this time. So I'm sure I'll run into Julie, Kate, and Sean again.

There were some folks from Talked to Polly Campbell for a while about - not dining, but - education and the Enquirer. And met Alex, who just moved to Cincy, and whose blog I just found right now as I type this (yes, it's a skill). His blog is hilarious, though I noticed he hasn't updated lately, unfortunately. Alex: welcome to our fair city, try not to compare it to Boston because Boston is dumb. And I recognized this chick, but I didn't actually talk to her.

And I met some completely new people! Like Kasmira and Laura. And Sarah (who I'd actually met before) and Megan from the Know Theatre.

At this point, you may have thought the same thing Sarah thought last night as we left: "Wow, lots of women bloggers." Indeed.

More coverage (BTW, the best Blogger Bash recap most definitely goes to Kate):

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All Aboard

Over on Cinplify, I found a story on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about rail travel in the United States. I started quoting from the story, but I ended up copying nearly the entire thing. So just go and read it right now. It's not that long.

Okay, so here's one quote:

But as Amtrak's national ridership soars in spite of its flaws -- increasing now for the sixth year in a row, with 2 million more riders than last year -- it's time to ask: Can a better rail system fill in the gaps that airlines are leaving behind?
And I believe the answer is a firm: HELL YES.


Airline passengers now have to pay for every piece of luggage, every drink, snack, and bathroom break (okay, maybe not that last one) taken. Customer service goes down while prices go up (I realize that fuel is costly). Less flights mean more crowds, and more stopovers. But people take it anyway.

Flying becomes more and more of a pain in the ass as time goes on. Airlines have started to capitalize on a reality that has existed for decades: air travel is the best way to travel long distances, and there is no alternative that even comes close.

But what if there was an alternative?


We traveled to Milwaukee this past weekend for a wedding. Before the weekend, I had to figure out how to get there.

  1. Plane: I honestly didn't look into the flying option. Assuredly quicker, but assuredly hundreds of dollars for a single, round-trip ticket from CVG, unless I had bought the tickets months ago.
  2. Train: If you go to Amtrak's website now and search, you'll find that the train leaves Union Terminal at 1:10 AM, and arrives in Milwaukee some 13 hrs. later. Coming back is a bit faster at 12 hrs., as long as you don't mind arriving at 3:17 in the morning. Cost of ticket: not expensive, but not cheap, at $140 round-trip for one person.. Being able to do things on the train like sleep, etc. is nice, but those hours are just not friendly.
  3. Automobile: Google Maps pins it at about 6.5 hrs and 380 miles driving. I can get that far in just over a tank of gas. Rounding down, that's two tanks of gas at about $90 for 1-4 people, and 13 hours of time, round-trip.
Balancing all the factors, you just can't beat driving.

Residents of the East Coast between Boston and Washington D.C. will rave about the train systems. (Just ask Joe Biden.) Then, when you get to your destination, there's often the local subway or train to get you to your final destination. But us in the Midwest apparently lose out.

A Man's Home Is His Castle

Putting on my libertarian (small 'L') hat on for a second, I have no problem with the $1.25 million selling price for Joe Horney's property at the infamous Rookwood Exchange site. More power to him.

To the owners who sold - that was of course their right to sell their property in exchange for what they considered a fair price. Good for them. But nobody should begrudge any homeowner from asking for a higher price, or not wanting to sell at all, just so that an office/shopping center that will probably be out of style in 10 years anyway can be built. This was not a road or bridge or power plant to be built on that site.

I believe the Ohio Supreme Court case was an important one, but at what cost for the three original holdouts? What did they pay in money (even though they were represented pro bono), stress, energy, and years of life. I believe the man from the older couple has passed away. There was a couple that ran a franchise math and reading center - one less small business in the city of Norwood. Good one.

As for Horney, IIRC, he did not actually live in his property, but rented it out. Nonetheless, he bought the property and paid the mortgage, and I'm sure he didn't have any tenants when they started bulldozing the neighborhood.

Now, with the last holdout gone, I'm looking forward to having more retail options in the area!