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Friday: Omaha's Mom - Elf M. Sternberg
elfs
elfs
Friday: Omaha's Mom
And we're up and out the door, heading toward the Waffle House for breakfast. We all have huge waffles and Omaha and I order grits. Mmm, grits; I haven't had grits in years, and it's wonderful to have one of the best comfort foods ever invented once more. This is much better than cream o' wheat or whatever that poison sold in most supermarkets is called.

We drive north, prepared for about a three-hour tour. Along the way, we become involved in a quest for fresh-squeezed orange juice. I don't really find any, and the best I can do is some orchard-squeezed and refrigerated stuff that's a few days old. It tastes a little off, but not dangerously so. Is there a rule that even in the heart of Florida the best-tasting orange juice to be found is Minute Maid? Even the tall glass of grapefruit juice I had for breakfast was a product of the Coca Cola company.

We get to meet Omaha's mother's house and introduce her to her granddaughter. While she plays with Kouryou-chan and enjoys leading her around the park near her home, Omaha and I find a hotel. It's an ancient Red Carpet. And I mean ancient. It's run-down and terrible, and I immediately have my worries when I see that in the front window there's a list of nearby churches. It might be a friendly gesture, but I don't have immediate good associations with that kind of thing.

We go back to Omaha's mother and she takes us out to a restaurant called The Longhorn which has huge racks of ribs. Kouryou-chan ate a grilled cheese sandwich, Omaha had a smaller rack.

After saying goodbye to Omaha's mother, we stopped at Starbucks where we updated our LJs, read our email, and visited Yahoo maps to find our way to Omaha's grandparents and other relatives. Then we return to the hotel.

This hotel is atrocious. The towels are horribly rough, the curtain is torn and broken. The bathroom is the worst part. When I go to take a shower, there's something disgusting in the tub: an old band-aid. I take it out with some toilet paper. I'm reluctant to have a wank in the shower because I know I'm only contributing to the next occupant's misery. It's just terrible.

Unfortunately, it's only eight, and we want Kouryou-chan to go to bed at a normal time, around ten, so keeping her occupied for two hours is a challenge. As we're floating through the channels available on the television, we come across a black-and-white filmed on 60's-era video show on, believe it or not, a Catholic channel. I mean, there are tons of Evangelical channels, but one for Catholics is new to me. As we're watching, a guy in over-the-top Cardinal clothing is gesturing toward a blackboard with a drawing of what looks like stairs and the words "Temptation" and "Sex" on them. He's circling "Temptation" with chalk. Feeling mischievous, I said, "Kouryou-chan, who does that look like?" And she looks back at me and says, "Dracula!"

Omaha takes a shower and concurs with my opinion of the hotel. There's a tear in the bed cover. And as I drove around the back of the hotel I realize there's an entire bank of rooms that have been abandoned: the doorknobs have been drilled out, and some of the windows have been boarded up. Great goddess, it occurs to me that there might be squatters in some of them.

Bad sign: along with the phone books and the Bible is an apartment buyer's guide. Translation: "Live somewhere else."

The cable cuts out at 11:00.

I don't think I'm going to sleep well tonight.

Current Mood: awake awake
Current Music: Court TV's The Forensic Files

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Comments
wendor From: wendor Date: July 20th, 2003 12:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
"...Omaha had a smaller rack."

Yeah, but such a NICE rack.
(I've certainly never heard YOU complaining)

kightp From: kightp Date: July 20th, 2003 01:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is there a rule that even in the heart of Florida the best-tasting orange juice to be found is Minute Maid?

Alas, I think this is a rule of contemporary American agribusiness, period. (Case in point: I live in the Willamette Valley, surrounded by sheep. The only lamb I can find in the supermarkets comes from New Zealand. Our lamb, it turns out, mostly gets shipped to New York.)
elfs From: elfs Date: July 21st, 2003 08:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Eww, weird. Yeah, the best grapefruit I've had in the past two weeks was this morning, at work, picked up in a Seattle farmer's market! What's up with that?
kightp From: kightp Date: July 21st, 2003 08:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Evidently there's more profit to be made in shipping food hither and yon than in selling it close to home. Thank heavens for farmers' markets!
wendor From: wendor Date: July 21st, 2003 09:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank the ?wonderful? legislators for a lot of this.

For example:

In Florida, a state that produces lage quantities of both orange juice and milk, there are laws "to protect competition in business" that require that locally produced orange juice be priced to include charges "as if it had to be transported from California" and that milk must be priced to include charges "as if it had to be shipped from Wisconsin", these extra charges going to the government, not to the producer etc.

Since this means that it is completely impossible for local OJ and milk to compete with imports from other states, producers have no choice but to ship them out of state where they have a chance at competing.

(ex-wife's family owns a dairly farm in Florida)



kightp From: kightp Date: July 21st, 2003 09:27 am (UTC) (Link)
*nod* This is the sort of thing that makes me roll my eyes when people start talking about the virtues of a "free-market economy."
elfs From: elfs Date: July 25th, 2003 01:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why? What Wendor has described is exactly the opposite of a "free market economy." There's a governmental dictate there that completely distorts the price of orange juice and milk and restrains the marketplace from setting the price according to the what people are willing to pay for the product.

The law sounds like a payoff to Coca-Cola and other bottlers and shippers, guaranteeing them price breaks on shipping. What they've done creates the illusion that, for those products, the price of shipping is immaterial-- when in fact it is the largest cost investment for the producer at this point.

A free market is one where people pay what they feel a product is worth and the manufacturer feels they can get for it. If they have to ship the product, that cost is part of the calculation. The government here has artificially widenend the market by raising the price locally-- this has the effect of marginally raising the price while widely widening the market. Which is good for the manfacturers, because a marginal price increase (which discourages buyers) is massively offset by the wider market (which encourages more people to become buyers).

But it's not a free market. It's distorted by the government mandate. It discourages the emergence of local markets and competitors by entrenching the existing shipping interests. And it discourages the creation of boutique resources, such as those seen with beef or cheese, for those of us who really like "the good stuff," because it has completely overruled in law the fact that there are tiers of quality and Minute Maid is somewhere near the bottom.
kightp From: kightp Date: July 25th, 2003 03:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was talking about those people who claim that what we we *have* is a free-market economy. Thus the quotation marks.

It's not, of course, and it rankles me every time some politician suggests that it is.
bayushi From: bayushi Date: July 20th, 2003 03:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it's a standard thing: all Red Carpet Inns are ancient and awful. The one time I stayed in one, it was with a lot of fellow students for the regional theater competitions. The students in the room next to us couldn't unlock their door from the inside and would have to climb out the windows.
elfs From: elfs Date: July 21st, 2003 08:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I took photos of the broken security chain, the water-damaged ceiling tiles, and the grody-to-the-max bathtub. I may yet post them.
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