The Old Man Olympics

Several times over the past few weeks, I’ve done a kayak/bike ride combo. I lock up my bike near my kayak destination (#1 below), then drive upriver, launch my kayak (#2), paddle down the river about 4 miles, lock up my kayak and pedal back to get my car. (Actually, it’s my son’s SUV, because his has a roof rack and plenty of room to stow the bike.)

The fact that the starting and ending points are near breweries is merely coincidental.

The launch point and the destination are both along the same bike path, so I don’t have to dodge cars on my bike ride. And the bike path extends far beyond the kayak launch point, so I can tack on more bike miles if I want. It’s a nice way to spend a weekend morning.

I also bought a $20 waterproof speaker, so the past couple of kayak rides, I’ve been able to listen to music as I paddle along.

If you count the steps I take hauling the kayak to/from the river, it’s basically the same as the Ironman Triathlon. Or the old man equivalent.

Beer. Here.

The Over-the-Rhine area of Cincinnati, just north of downtown, has a rich tradition of brewing beer. The neighborhood got its name from the heavy influx of hard-working German immigrants who started arriving in the mid-1800s. And Germans like their beer.

The neighborhood’s distinctive name comes from the predominantly German mid-19th century immigrants who developed the area and became its early residents. Many walked to work across bridges over the Miami and Erie Canal, which separated the area from downtown Cincinnati. The canal was nicknamed “the Rhine” in reference to the river Rhine in Germany, and the newly settled area north of the canal as “Over the Rhine”.[3][4] In German, the district was called über den Rhein.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Over-the-Rhine

Prohibition killed off dozens of breweries in the area. But a few survived. And one of those old breweries is getting a major expansion, thanks to a Cincinnati kid who made his mark selling Boston Lager.

Here’s info from the press release a couple of weeks ago:

The Boston Beer Company and Samuel Adams Cincinnati Brewery announced plans for a significant expansion of the brewery located on Cincinnati’s Central Parkway. The project will be the largest brewery investment in the long and storied history of brewing in Cincinnati.

The substantial brewery enhancement will support the growing demand for products across the Boston Beer portfolio, bringing additional production capabilities to the site, including two highly anticipated canning lines and innovative packing equipment to support brands like Samuel Adams, Angry Orchard, Twisted Tea and Truly Hard Seltzer. Once completed, the brewery will be able to quadruple production in Cincinnati. The project will also add more than one hundred new jobs.

Jim Koch, the founder of The Boston Beer Company, grew up in Cincinnati. His father worked at the Schoenling Brewing Co. building that now houses part of Boston Beer’s local operations. The recipe for Samuel Adams Boston Lager came from Jim’s great-great-grandfather. Now his business is adding more than 100 local jobs.

He (Koch) said the 107 jobs created by the expansion will be the kind of well-paying blue-collar jobs that made up the backbone of Cincinnati’s economy in the days when manufacturing was king.

“When I grew up there were a lot of blue-collar craftsman jobs in Cincinnati, like tool and die at Cincinnati Milacron or General Motors in Norwood,” Koch said. “There were once well-paying union craftsman jobs in Cincinnati, and a lot of them have gone away.”

Koch said he worked with the Teamsters union and the median income of the new jobs being created will be $70,000 a year. The contract covering those jobs is being extended to the 130 existing brewery workers as well.

Text in italics above from this Cincinnati Business Courier article

We need all the positive economic news we can get these days, and this Sam Adams expansion is great news. The supply chain challenges of the pandemic (turns out most PPE is made in China – who knew?) have also made more people realize that we need to make more stuff right here in America. And we as consumers need to “shop local” and spend our cash on those products. Including beer. Cheers to that!

This four-minute TV news feature from 2011 gives a nice overview of Jim Koch’s back story.

Entering the same river twice

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

I totally understand what he’s saying… especially when I go kayaking on the Little Miami River, as I did yesterday morning. I’ve paddled it many times, going upriver for as long as my arms can stand it, and then floating back to my launch point at Otto Armleder Park. Each time, the river IS different – rain (or lack thereof), fallen trees and the constant current reshape it, creating new pools and riffles (they’re way too tame to be called rapids).

And if I’m not a different dude each time I first step into the river, I’m definitely a changed man within seconds. Somehow the current manages to wash away my worries, and I’m more attuned to the sights and sounds around me. I can always count on seeing a grey heron or three, but yesterday there was an entire flock of Canada Geese along the shoreline. I passed three middle-aged couples paddling ~7 miles down to the Ohio River. I saw someone fly fishing – he and his travel companion (still sleeping in his/her tree hammock) had paddled downriver and camped overnight. And I had plenty of alone time to ponder the mysteries of life.

The river is different. I’m different. But the positive feeling I get? That’s the same as it ever was.

Love in the Time of Cholera. Art in the Time of COVID.

(My work) is not an answer, it’s a question. I think the world is coming to a place that raises a lot of questions: technology that can dehumanize us, the constant stimulation of information, of news, of everything. We have never been exposed to so much. That brings us to a place where the pace of things is so fast we don’t have time to step back and slow down and see what’s happening. I try to make it a very personalized experience. It has a meaning for me and it’s the reason I do it. But for you or someone who sees it, it’s what the art is saying to you. That’s the real meaning of the artwork, which I don’t own. The viewer owns it.

Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto, known as Vhils, in this Cincinnati Business Courier article.

Vhils first large-scale solo exhibition in the U.S. was supposed to be happening right now at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, but the center is closed due to the pandemic.

“You have to work on it every day or else you start to lose it pretty quickly.”

18-year-old Cincinnati artist Owen Gunderman, known as Tenzing.

Owen Gunderman (a.k.a. Tenzing) was supposed to have his first solo exhibition this weekend at a Cincinnati gallery. His upcoming high school graduation won’t be as festive either. And his dad (a friend of mine) has been working countless hours during the pandemic, as a senior director of emergency services (and interventional cardiac and radiologic services too!) at an area hospital.

Please check out the Cincinnati Magazine profile of Owen and his vlog below.

So close, and yet so-cially distant.

In case you missed it (and there’s a 99.9% chance you did miss it), the podcast that I co-host is yesterday’s news! Er, I mean, it was in yesterday’s Cincinnati Enquirer. What do you mean you don’t subscribe to a newspaper? What do you mean you don’t even know what a ‘newspaper’ is?

“Daddy, this iPad is broken…”

Luann Gibbs wrote a “Top 10 ways to practice social distancing” article, and there we were, right at the top of the list. OK, eight spots away from the top of the list. But still, we got some ink!

Full disclosure: Luann Gibbs used to work at 97X, the station that is the focus of our podcast. But neither Dave nor I knew that she was going to mention us.

“Extra, extra… two old guys talk about a radio station that died a decade ago!”

It was our “the new phone book’s here” moment.

Actually, Dave and I don’t harbor any delusions of grandeur. (Occasionally, we do have delusions of adequacy, but we lie down until those go away.) Our podcast is extremely niche. Some podcasts have thousands of regular listeners, some have hundreds… we have “tens” of listeners. As I often say, “we’ve made about 50 people very happy” by bringing back fond memories of a small-but-mighty and much-beloved indie rock radio station. But it’s always nice to get a bit of recognition for the hard work you’ve done.

And now that we’re all under house arrest, there’s never been a better time to check out some new podcasts.

Mom-trepreneur

Here’s a very cool article from a very cool website (Women of Cincinnati) about a very cool person (Jackie Roberto) who runs a very cool business (Madison Design Group).

photo from the Madison Design Group website

The article is about how Jackie balances work and family. We’re good friends with Jackie and her husband Phil (he’s the organizer of the “Fool Moon” late night bike rides that I occasionally attend… and he helped clean up this messy WordPress site of mine, too). Our kids went to grade school together, and now are in high school together, so we’ve witnessed their balancing act firsthand, with a ton of admiration.

The interview was conducted by our mutual friend, Judy Zitnik, yet another parent from the grade school gang. The profile is part of a series on Women of Cincinnati:

There is no single definition of an entrepreneur or the obstacles they face. As part of our year-long series sponsored by Main Street Ventures, our community chose 12 of the biggest obstacles female-identifying entrepreneurs face, and we found 12 women who spend their days conquering them. Explore the whole series here.

That’s Jackie on the right (and our mutual friend Judy Zitnik Finn on the left).
Photo by Chelsie Walter

The entire interview is great – please read it. In the interim, here are some money quotes:

Because to be a good creative, you have to have a life. You have to be immersed in life to know how to communicate or to write or to design. You have to be informed in that way to be better at what you do. So we try to make sure that we work really hard, and then we leave. And then you do whatever you want. It’s not work hard; play hard. It’s work hard, and then have your life in whatever way you define it.

As a fellow creative, I wholeheartedly agree with this. Time spent disengaged from work is part of “filling the well” so that you have creative energy when you reengage.

The moment you have the baby, you’re like, “Stay home with the baby or work?” Well, staying home looks a lot easier until you realize it’s actually harder. It’s way harder. You know, I’ve always joked, “Well, clients never wipe their nose on my legs. They never cry. (Or if they do, they never cry in front of me.)” 

Honestly, though, it is way harder to stay at home. I think it is the unsung amazing work for our society. And it has almost always been on women. It’s changing slowly. It’s a noble and important job. But it is still a thankless job. And you know, we know some stay-at-home dads, and I’m sure they feel the same way.

Well said, Jackie!

For me, it’s not really about money or all the outward signs of success. It’s not that I’m immune to all that, but it’s just about living modestly so that I have enough money to have interesting experiences.

Jackie and her husband Phil are all about the interesting experiences. Just salt-of-the-earth, kind, caring human beings raising two wonderful daughters… while also carving out meaningful careers. I’m tempted to say “we should all be so lucky” but really it’s more like “we should all follow their example.”

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