Beer & Philosophy

Beer can turn most of us into philosophers. But in this case (ha!), I’m talking about the business philosophy of the owners of Great Lakes Brewing Co. (based in Cleveland, Ohio). My friend Howard works for Great Lakes, and he flagged this story from Brewer Magazine in his Instagram. The article is a Q&A with co-founders/co-owners (and blood brothers) Daniel and Patrick Conway, as well as the current CEO, Mark King.

I like Great Lakes beers anyway, but I like them even more after reading the piece. Because their recipe for success has as much to do with people as it has to do with barley, malt, and hops. Here’s Daniel talking about employees:

” I recall when our payroll provider helped us create our first policy manual and there was a section where we could insert our own language, and we included that ‘our people are not costs to control, but assets to develop and grow.’ Words in a manual long since forgotten but that spirit is still alive today.”

“our people are not costs to control, but assets to develop and grow.”

Original Great Lakes Policy Manual

Mmm, that’s as refreshing as a Great Lakes Eliot Ness amber lager!

And here’s Patrick, citing a good idea that has helped sustain the brewery since it was founded in 1988:

“I think from the beginning with our ‘triple bottom line’ where we wanted to take care of our finances, but also our city and people and the planet. It seemed so logical to not just focus on profit and it carried us well for years.”

A business focus that includes people and the planet? Sounds as tasty as an Edmund Fitzgerald porter!

More from Patrick later in the interview: ” Invest in good people from the start.”

It shouldn’t be a foreign concept, but it all too often is. Take better care of your people, and they’ll care more about the company.

The Conway brothers started an Employee Stock Ownership Plan back in 2018, so they’re putting their money where their mouth is.

I already liked Great Lakes beers. Now I can feel even better about purchasing those products because I know they there’s a lot of people power in every serving.


Wrestling with Writing. And Vice Versa.

A few days ago, Cincinnati Magazine sent out an email touting their most popular stories of the year, with a three-pronged qualifier:

I’m not sure if they consider “pro wrasslin'” a sport. Doubtful. But I’m going to convince myself that they DO consider it a sport. How else could you explain the fact that the photo essay I wrote back in June didn’t make the list?

OK, I won’t delude myself any longer. Heck, I won’t even dupe myself into thinking that the “essay” part was the main event – Grant Moxley‘s photos were the real stars of the show.

But honestly, I wouldn’t care if the article was the least popular one of 2023. If you had told 10-year-old Dubbatrubba “in the future someone will pay you to attend a low-budget wrestling event, interview some wrestlers, and write a brief story about it” I’d have been so happy that I would’ve given you a celebratory Brainbuster. Or maybe a Camel Clutch. Or a Figure Four Leglock.

As a wee lad, the highlight of my rural Arkansas Saturday mornings was tuning in to professional wrestling on one of the two TV stations that we could get via our crappy rooftop antenna. (If you’re keeping score, they were the NBC and CBS stations out of Little Rock, a good 100 miles away. The ABC affiliate’s signal wasn’t as strong, thus I was denied a chance to see Happy Days in its prime. Talk about deprivation!)

I loved watching old-school pros like Dusty Rhodes, Andre the Giant, Ernie “Cat” Ladd, Sugar Ray Candy, and the Iron Sheik. I knew it was mostly an act, but it was a great escape from the challenges of everyday life. (And growing up poor in rural Arkansas, there were plenty of those!)

So when Cincinnati Magazine editor John Fox — an longtime friend of mine — asked me if I could write a photo essay about a minor-league wrestling organization based in town, I was ecstatic.

I loved the chance to connect my childhood avocation with my current vocation. It was an absolute blast!

I may never be a world champion in writing (or even win the “intercontinental belt” whatever that is), but at least I’m in the ring, taking my best shot.

P.S. having attended a Northern Wrestling Federation event where one wrestler did a backflip off the top rope and landed on another wrestler outside the ring, with only a thin piece of plywood protecting them from the concrete floor, here’s my response to anyone who tries to tell me that pro wrasslin’ is “fake.”

Shot to Hell

You never know what you’re going to find on Twitter* but it’s usually a hot mess.

*yes, I still call it Twitter – if the egomaniacal twit that owns it wants to pay me $8 a month, I will start using the new (lame) name.

Here’s a lovely Twitter post from Christmas Day – one that perhaps misses the mark by a country mile on the whole “spirit of the season” and “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” vibe:

Here’s a different image for you, Commissioner Gipson:

Thankfully the better angels joined the conversation to provide a bit of perspective for Gunnut Gipson:


Hey, Commissioner, your Twitter bio lists “missionary” among your credentials:

Why don’t you make it your mission to quit pandering to a very small minority. This reply summed it up nicely:

You see, Commissioner, until people like you start showing some common sense, Santa’s just gonna keep bringing us more senseless deaths.

Big Red Sun Blues

First let’s hear from the brilliant singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams:

Everything is goin’ wrong
It’s not right anymore
We can’t seem to get along
The way we did before
Sun is hangin’ in the sky
Sinkin’ low and so am I

Then let’s listen to journalist/author/environmentalist (and Sunday school teacher) Bill McKibben in this article about LNG.

“The good Lord was kind enough to hang a large ball of burning gas 93 million miles up in the sky. We now know how to make absolutely full use of it, so we should give up on energy from hell and substitute energy from heaven.”

Back to you, Lu:

How’m I gonna lose
These big red sun blues?
Big red sun, big red sun
Big red sun blues

Now over to the International Energy Agency:

Let’s lose the blues and go green with that big red sun.

10-4, Good buddy

This used to be the hottest technology:

Now you can get it for $4 at the thrift store. ($3 if you are age 50 or older on “Senior Sundays”… no, I didn’t buy it.)

As you gird your loins (i.e. change from your sleep PJs to your work-from-home PJs) for some CyberMonday shopping, keep this ol’ CB radio in mind. And read this New York Times opinion piece from Yvon Chouinard, the guy who founded the Patagonia brand, before you click “buy now.”

Cheap products, made poorly and thrown away quickly, are killing people and the planet.

from the article linked above

Obsession with the latest tech gadgets drives open pit mining for precious minerals. Demand for rubber continues to decimate rainforests. Turning these and other raw materials into final products releases one-fifth of all carbon emissions.

From the article linked above

Cheap stuff will wind up in landfills. The latest technology will get relegated to the thrift store faster than you can say “new iPhone.”

“Breaker one-nine, you got your ears on? If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Over.”

“That’s a big 10-4, good buddy!”

Water, water, (not) everywhere

You may refuse to believe — or just ignore — the facts about global climate change. But that won’t change the fact that the world is changing, in ways that will affect all of us, sooner or later. (And the way we’re tracking, it’s going to be sooner.)

The Amazon, the planet’s air conditioner, is on the fritz.

In Mexico City, they’re imposing severe restrictions on water use because the reservoir is so low.

In an area of Spain, the reservoir has already dried up, and residents there have to get their water by truck.

Here’s the good news: if you’ve got $7 to spare, you can help save the planet.

You can install this gadget (Home Depot has one too) in about five minutes (it goes in between the pipe and the shower head). Push the button and the water flow slows to a trickle — but maintains your current water temperature — so you’re not wasting gallons of water while you’re shampooing, lathering up, shaving, etc. Push the button again and the regular flow resumes so you can rinse off. Easy-peasy.

It’s not as dramatic as this:

But it’s just as effective.

For a mere $7, you could easily save about 10 gallons of water every time you shower. You won’t just be saving water, you’ll be saving the planet. I’ll drink to that!