Category Archives: Downtown

hitcoffeestandPart of being an American means that you are always on the lookout for entrepreneurship opportunities even if you’re a risk-averse coward like I am.

Every now and again I come up with some business venture that somebody else should totally pursue. I say that I totally would if I had the money and some guts.
As often as not, these turn out to be a bad idea.

The most recent one is looking at the absolute lack of coffeehouses here in western Queenland. The county where I lived in Arapaho (Dent County) had 9,000 or so people and the town I lived in said county (Callie) had roughly half of that. The next largest town had less than three hundred people. The rest was rurally aportioned in the county. Callie had two coffeehouses, one coffee hut, and a Starbucks in the Safeway.

Lancaster County, where I presently live, has 50,000 people in it. Roughly 10,000 people live in the city of Stonebridge or its Kingsland counterpart, Southbridge. Given the coffee situation in Callie, you could imagine my surprise on our arrival when I discover that Stonebridge has… two coffee places, plus coffee at a bread and sandwich chain. Oh, and a Dunkin Donuts, of that counts. No Starbucks at all. No drive-thru huts. No drive-thru at all! And one of the two coffee places is five-minutes out of town and another has a rotten parking situation because it’s right downtown.

It seemed to me that this place was ripe for a new coffee place. If I had the money, I’d open one. Heck, I’d call it Hit Coffee! Surely this place is dying for more coffee-related options!

Evidently not. One of the two coffee places closed last month. And apparently there used to be a third, which closed before we got here. So now there’s only one.

One of my favorite coffee places of anywhere I lived was called Bad Ass Coffee (before it de-franchised). I even bought a t-shirt, in part because I liked the place and part because it had good t-shirts with its donkey mascots. Anyhow, imagine my surprise when I arrive out here and discover that the downtown coffee place (the one that just closed). I mean, a table with the Bad Ass logo on it. I asked them if they used to be a Bad Ass Coffee and they said that they bought the table at an auction.

If I were to open a coffee place, if it weren’t Hit Coffee, it would be Bad Ass Coffee. Because who doesn’t want to try coffee at a place called Bad Ass Coffee?

Category: Downtown

Taking ideas and material from posts over here, I wrote a quick post over at Ordinary Times about the dangers of trick plays in youth athletics.

Captain Killjoy vs The Trick Play

Category: Downtown

We ate at a Mexican Restaurant last night. While eating, a guy in a sombrero and a Guy Fawkes mask came out and started dancing to the Tejano music. By the time I got over the sheer amount of weird in the whole thing and got my camera phone out, he went back to the back. If I’d had Google Glasses on, that wouldn’t have happened. Which is why I hope they become affordable and commonplace.

Category: Downtown

During the big cleanup before the move, I had to take multiple trips to the local landfill. I learned a few things about this.

The big thing I learned is never ever wear sandals to a landfill. I managed to do this twice.

Second, the local landfill was actually in a really beautiful part of town. Well, out of town in a particular beautiful direction, I guess. I’d never had occasion to go that way, but having gone there I felt it was a shame. If we’d stayed, I might have advocated building a house that way. Well, if we’d stayed and there hadn’t been the landfill over that way.

I was expecting there to be a big dumpster or something. I put the trash in there, then some truck puts it in a pit that gets covered up. Actually, we just put it on the ground. Somehow it goes from a ground to the container, then maybe the container to somewhere else. Whatever the case, you’re just putting a bunch of stuff on the ground. That’s… a really weird feeling.

The second trip out there involved dumping our auto-swing. It stopped working sometime back. We felt really bad about throwing away something that was close to useful. But it was in such a shape that I knew thrift stores wouldn’t take it and we didnt want to haul it across the country.

Now, I am not exactly Mr. Environmentalist, but one place (not the only place) where I am sympathetic is the throwing away of almost-good-stuff. I am always trying to repurpose old electronics equipment, for instance. But sometimes you can’t. Mom runs a thrift store for the church and she tells me enough to know that broken electronics, even if useful in other contexts, is never useful to them. Maybe a gadgeteer could fix it, but it’s all part of the disposable societal that hippies and environmentalists and liberals lament and where I don’t honestly disagree at least in the abstract sense.

So imagine my happy surprise when I arrive back with the next load and the swing was gone! Actually, it was in the truck parked next to me. The woman noticed me looking at it and was self-conscious about it. I had simply told her that I’d dropped off the autoswing a half-hour before and I was pleased as punch that someone was going to have a use for it.

She took it the wrong way and said that she would put it back. I told her that no I was very happy. And in fact I went in my car and gave her the mobile hangs that I’d taken off before trashing it. This changed her mood on it somewhat. She was still embarrassed and explained away why she was in a landfill getting stuff. To me, no explanation was necessary. Seriously. I think it’s great if people can find and make use of such stuff. I wish more people would do it.

Even setting aside environmental concerns, a cradle-to-cradle society of stuff seems more culturally nourishing to me than the disposable one we participate in.

Category: Downtown


Category: Downtown

So, Friday night I went to go see Man of Steel. After the movie let out, it was around midnight. I wanted to smoke a few cigarettes before returning home. Due to the heat and the lack of air conditioning at our house, the windows are open and it bothers Clancy if I am smoking near the building. So I went to the local Motor Court and had, bought some hot chocolate, and went behind the building.

I’d been there about ten minutes when a cop car rolled up. It’s never a good thing when you’re hanging out and a cop car rolls up. I’ve been through the drill before. They get out, shine a bright light in your eye (if it’s night), and start asking you a bunch of questions. What are you doing here? Do you have somewhere else you should be? Are you waiting for someone? What are you waiting for someone for? Do you live in town? Could we see your driver’s license? Is this driver’s license current? How long have you lived at this address? Where did you live before you lived at this address? Did you drive here? Where is your car? Would you mind if we searched it (okay, I’ve only been asked this twice)? And about a hundred thousand ways of asking why I am acting so suspicious-like.

When it’s all said and done, no ticket is issued. It’s mostly just a nuisance and a notice that I need to find some other place to go in the future. If I’m not from whatever town this happens in, they suggest that I leave and maybe next time I find some other place to stop. If I do live in town, they suggest that I just go mosey on home.

I had my answers in a row by the time it stopped in front of me. I just got out of a movie and am smoking a couple cigarettes before I go home. I’m smoking here because it bothers my wife and I have an infant at home. I was a tad irritated because, seriously, they were going to quiz me when there are three fellows over there sleeping in that drainage ditch and a family of six that has parked for the night in that van over there? I’m the person of interest here?

They never got out of the car, though. They just parked there for about three minutes. Then they drove, did a Uey, and then parked behind the aforementioned family van and stayed there for about five minutes. Then they pulled out and went back on the street and left.

I guess they’re a little on high alert due to the fact that it’s Hippie Week and they have people spending the night in vans in parking lots and drainage ditches. Having thought about it, this hasn’t happened in Arapaho at all. Either because I am a local and people recognize me, or the community trust quotient is high enough that a guy standing there smoking doesn’t raise alarm bells like it does in other places I’ve lived. The only time I have been hassled in the last three years has been when we took a trip back home to Deltona. In that case, the cop was actually pretty cool about it and made it clear from early on that he was just needing to collect enough information to fill out a “Suspicious Person Contact Form.”

Category: Courthouse, Downtown


Driving through town today, I saw confirmation of a creeping suspicion that I have lately been having: over the past couple weeks there has been an influx of vagrants in the Callie area. Or dirty hippies. Or something. It started off with noticing a couple of panhandlers in a place where panhandling is not very common. I shrugged it off because it’s summer and when we do have them it’s during the warm months for rather obvious reasons.

I went into town with Lain today, though, and they were suddenly everywhere. It has begun.

Every few years, there is some national organization of nature loving individuals that descend upon Callie. Some places lobby for the sorts of events that bring commerce to the area. A place where I previously lived boasted about having more World Horseshoe Championship Tournaments than any location outside of Las Vegas. Callie, though, made no such lobbying effort. We have our rodeo (which is a pretty big deal around here) and our crashy derby, but by and large, there’s no great push to bring lots of people to town. And certainly not hippies.

Now, one of the things that I like about the west is that the relationship with hippies is different than back home. They are not considered quite so dirty. Indeed, their appreciation of nature is appreciated. Sometimes with an eyeroll, but hey, they’re heart is in the right place. The personification of the irritating environmentalist isn’t some guy with long hair and tie-dye, but more along the lines of some guy in a suit in New York City who thinks he knows what’s best for the folks out here. Hippies? Harmless, for the most part.

Callie is a pretty Republican area, though, so the goodwill is not unlimited. And, to be honest, the problems that these events bring to the town are legendary. The town is equipped for 5,000 and these events boast between 7,000 and 25,000 people which is far more than its built for.The city’s part-time police force goes full-time. Off-duty cops from other parts of the state come into town. Fire departments are on stand-by. Shop-lifting becomes a problem. And the hospital becomes cluttered with people who do stupid things possibly under the influence of narcotics. Clancy’s last day is Friday, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. Nor is the fact that we will be sending July Fourth back in Deltona.

So, for fear of any more unwanted visitors late at night (no, we’re pretty sure our previous visitor was not a hippie), we are going to start locking our doors while they continue to roll in.

We will nonetheless be showing our solidarity by putting the baby in tie-dye when we take her out.

Category: Downtown

When it comes to most things (technology excluded), I am a somewhat thrifty guy. Sometimes, I am exceptionally thrifty.

I like my convenience store fake-coffee. They have a double-extreme caffeine variant and, for a little over a dollar, I can be set for the rest of the day, altertness-wise.

The girl at the local supply store who used to sometimes give me coffee for free has moved on, alas, and now they expect me to pay for it and everything. They do have buy-five-get-one-free deals, though. Right now they have a special running where they punch it twice for every coffee I get. Rather than actually redeeming any of these things, I’ve been stocking up. So once I can’t get two punches for the cost of a single coffee, my next several will be free.

This is the latest in a long-line of ways I try to game the system. They punch the code regardless of what size coffee I get. So even when it’s not two-punch month, I end up saving those things up for when I want a really large size. Because, hey, that’s an extra ten or twenty cents.

It feels kind of odd to be gaming a system for ten or twenty cents.

Category: Downtown

constructionOne of the ideas making its rounds around Washington (again) is a new stimulus package dedicated towards improving infrastructure. Taking this opportunity of high unemployment to rebuild and expand roads, public hospitals, schools, and so on. As is often the case, it seems to me that the devil is in the details with something like this, though it’s one of the less objectionable ideas I’ve heard. One of the things I’ve noticed in small-city and small-town America, though, is the building of grand new things without much regard for what happens to the old.

In Colosse, near the Capitol district, is an old football stadium that nobody has used for years. For various reasons, it has a real soft spot in the heart of Colosseans everywhere and so nobody will state the obvious, that it needs to be torn down. Instead, idea after idea comes up about how it can be converted into something, but idea after idea is shot down. If they wanted to create a new superstar convention center, they could simply build a new one for less money than converting a stadium into a convention center would cost. No conversion necessary.

In Beck County, Deseret, where I lived for a couple of years, they were working on building a new hospital. Or rather, combining the two existing hospitals into one huge one by expanding one of the two campuses. One of the big questions, though, was what happens to the old hospital? It was a question that few actually asked. There was the assumption, I think, that Beck State University would ultimately buy it because it was right across the street from the campus that had an expanding student body. But somewhere along the way the university determined that it didn’t have the money. I don’t know what ever happened with any of that as we left the state and I think the last time we went back the “old” hospital was still in use. I was always more impressed with it than I was the new (to-be-expanded) facility. The former was on a hill and had some great views out of the building. The latter was on the top of a hill, which was cool, but was laid out pretty flat like a giant high school. Obviously, these are not the things on which decisions should be made, but I thought it a real shame that such a nice looking building might be demolished to make room for… what, exactly?

There are a couple of cases going on in Callie, Arapaho, where I now live. First is another hospital that they’re building down the street from the old. I’ve been reading the Callie Register week in and week out and nothing has been mentioned about what’s going to happen with the old facilities. As far as buildings go, it’s not as impressive as the hospital in Deseret and I guess it wouldn’t be a big deal if it went down. Hard to imagine anything else happening to it given the excess real estate available other than it sitting dormant, as is the case with a couple of old grain factories (at least that’s what I think they are) in town. There’s an old warehouse that for a while was a night club of sorts that is being torn down.

And last on this list is the old elementary school, which was replaced when a new one was built a little while back. Right now it’s serving as a Head Start center, though that requires only a portion of the building and everyone seems to be scratching their heads about what to do with it. The local conservative letter-writer to the Register suggests that it needs to be sold cause the government doesn’t need it and the government should be cut… but sold to whom?

Meanwhile, new stuff is regularly being built. There seems to be something sad about the constant need to build new things. We have a real attraction to new. Back home, there was Phillippi High School, which was considered by most to be the dregs of a school compared to South Phillippi and East Phillippi, the district’s other two high schools. They tore down PHS and rebuilt everything on the same grounds, and despite having the same lackluster teachers, the same lower-class student body, and the same everything else… suddenly everyone in the Phillippi district was petitioning to transfer into the new (old) school. To some, I guess, it really is as if the date of construction is what really matters. It’s been a decade now since all of that happened and as I hear it nobody is anxious to have their kids go to that school anymore.

I guess there’s something a little sad to me about out with the old and in with the new. Is it really so impossible to retrofit older buildings with better amenities? (easier, one would imagine, than converting a football stadium into a convention center)? Out here in Arapaho the land is so cheap that I guess it always makes sense to just build something new rather than take advantage of real estate that has already been built. In Beck County there were always new hotels being build, meanwhile a really cool and historic hotel downtown, the Fritz was vacant. The people wringed their hands about this historic place just kind of going to pot, but when people would come to Fort Beck for this reason or that, they would always make reservations with the chains and the chains always had their own building models in mind and with real estate being so affordable they could just build a new one on the outskirts of town. Nobody who wasn’t already in town knew how cool The Fritz is in comparison. If they care, which they might not since most hotel rooms are about a place to land your head at night.

We are one of the wealthiest nations in the world, if not the outright wealthiest. I guess it’s a biproduct of this that we can always afford to build new rather than make do with the old. Of course, we’re also not as wealthy a country as we sometimes think (think our national debt and lack of personal savings and banking industry vulnerability). It’s not unlike with cars, which I will comment on soon. Of course, sometimes it just is the case that the latter is cheaper than the former. Made moreso the case by all of the building requirements that these old structures would need to be retrofitted with if they were to be reopened. I was thinking of this the other day in Redstone when I was admiring a duplex is pretty awful shape that obviously hadn’t been lived in for quite some time. I don’t even know if such a building could be moved into and the costs of renovation probably would exceed the costs of tearing it down and building something new.

Living in the world of technology, it’s something that I can appreciate to some degree. A laptop breaks down, if you add together the amount of money it would take to find replacement parts and the time it would take and how much my time is worth… I can get a new laptop for much cheaper. Of course, technology always gets cheaper and better. I don’t know how much Moore’s Law applies to construction.

The fact that we spend more on health care than anyone else for less remarkable results is the subject of much discussion and recrimination. There are some things where our health care really does excel or stand out. One thing that amazes foreign doctors that come here is how much nicer our facilities are. As much like a hotel as a hospital. Whether this is a great use of our health care dollars or not I cannot really say.

An assistant football coach of the Texas Longhorns had sex with a UT student at the 2009 Fiesta Bowl:

In separate statements released Friday night, Dodds and Applewhite called the incident a one-time occurrence. [UT Athletic Director Deloss] Dodds said it happened during activities related to the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, when [UT Offensive Coordinator] Applewhite was UT’s assistant head coach and running backs coach.

Dodds said he learned of the incident later that month, and that Applewhite admitted his “inappropriate conduct.” Applewhite “fully accepted his discipline, including counseling,” Dodds said.

“Several years ago, I made a regretful decision resulting in behavior that was totally inappropriate,” Applewhite said in his statement. “It was a one-time occurrence and was a personal matter. Shortly after it occurred, I discussed the situation with DeLoss Dodds. I was upfront and took full responsibility for my actions. This is and was resolved four years ago with the university.

The university may have had reason to make this belated disclosure:

Last month, Bev Kearney, the women’s track coach at the University of Texas, resigned over an affair with “an adult student-athlete” in 2002. Was the African-American, gay, woman forced out over a consensual affair while the white male football coach (who was also a star football player at the school) received preferential treatment? In Applewhite’s case, the affair was not with an athlete, but there may have still been a supervisory role. It will be interesting to see how Texas spins this.

It seems to me the central question is whether or not there was a supervisory role (and if there was, what was the nature of it). That, to my mind, is a critical difference between the two incidents. I could be convinced that Applewhite should have been fired for his transgression (UT is reviewing the policy). The case that Kearney shouldn’t have been fired is much more difficult to make. Even at the professional level, where there is a much more ambiguous power relationship between coach and player and the players are older, that is a fireable offense under any reasonable handbook. Such things are almost certain to cause instability within the team the coach was hired to lead.

In the Applewhite case, I can really see it going either way. It seems inappropriate for anybody who is even technically a sorta-member of faculty to be sleeping with students. It also sets a bad standard for the student athletes and their conduct (how they handle the attention and adulation they receive, if of course we care about such things). It can be hard enough to get coaches to crack down on inappropriate (or illegal) personal conduct without coaches having inappropriate relations with students ten years their junior. On the other hand, it’s consensual and there is very little to indicate that their was sufficient power differential to cause concern for coercion.

One suspects that the Applewhite case is one of those things that is going to depend heavily on factors unrelated to the allegation. Which means that someone more prominent like Applewhite stays, while a lesser-known figure would be quietly dispatched.

Category: Downtown, School