Wine Review: 2015 Carmenere Reserva, Casillero del Diablo

img_9501

The Carmenere grape is originally from Medoc, north of Bordeaux, France.  It disappeared from Medoc following the phylloxera outbreak in the 19th century but, after hiding out in Devil’s locker for about a hundred years, reappeared in Chile at the end of the 20th century.

In case you didn’t know, Phylloxera are a grape destroying insect.

Xavier says that Carmenere is a very grown up kind of wine.

“So, you mean it doesn’t taste like wine coolers?”,  I asked.

“I feel like I should be smoking a cigar,” he said.

We didn’t have cigars but we did have peanut M&M’s, which are dissimilar but also good.

Very dry and slightly bitter. The label said chocolate and coffee but, to clarify, they mean dark chocolate and black coffee.

This wine takes a long time to open up. I would give it at least two hours. The longer it’s been open, the better it tastes.

Casillero del Diablo Carmenere is deep, dark and dense.  It is the Guinness beer of wine and was actually filling in a similar manner. You will probably not accidentally drink the whole bottle in one sitting. I recommend spacing this one out over a couple of nights.

I also recommend dental floss and a good whitening toothpaste as Carmenere will absolutely cause a sticky case of the penguin mouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine Review: 2014 Pinot Noir, Robert Mondavi Private Selection

img_8572

“Will stay in a situation well past the point when a sane person would have quit.”

That’s (always been) me, in a nutshell.

I don’t know if the picture on the label is supposed to be light house or a church but either one seems appropriate for pondering a moral dilemma.

Shelly recommended the Pinot Noir from Robert Mondavi and it did not disappoint.

Xavier and I killed a bottle of this dark and swirling smooth red wine while debating the following situation.

For the past two years I have been teaching a group fitness class called Strength And Balance For Seniors. After all that time I still only have three regular participants. They each only pay $35 a month for the class and it meets twice a week.

Of the three participants, I like two of them well enough but one of them, a women named Sally, pushes me like a sore tooth. Every conversation with her is like chewing on tin foil.

Further complicating matters is that I’ve recently started a new job which is consuming quite a bit of my time and making it increasingly inconvenient to keep the class going, in part, because that class time comes out of the precious few hours I have left of “me time”.

Hold on, let me pour another glass wine.

The problem isn’t that she’s not nice and it’s not that we have opposing political views. She is a nice person who agrees with me on most things. She even loves animals but this is not the problem.

The problem is two-fold, well, actually three-fold if we’re being honest.

The #1 problem is that she likes me a little too much. She stalks me on facebook, digging back through years of my photos and posts, and then announces her findings during class as if she has solved some great mystery. This habit alone makes it hard to keep my cool.

Problem #2 is that, bless her heart, but she’s just a god damned idiot. Literally every word that escapes her mouth is without forethought or reason. I have often wondered how it is that husband hasn’t drowned her in the tub – not for the life insurance money but just to shut her up.

Problem #3 is that, after working on the same exercises with the same simple explanations twice a week for two years, she still stumbles through them like a drunk baboon.

Honestly, by now I could’ve taught monkeys to do these exercises better than she does them.

I spoke to my life coach about it. Kim is pretty blunt. She said, “You need to work smarter, not harder. Cut ’em loose.”

And I had just about decided to do that when….

Wait, need more wine.

I had just about decided to end this class when the Sally’s 38 year old son died of a drug overdose.

Well, fuck.

How am I supposed to fuel this decision with righteous indignation when now all of a sudden I am forced to consider her as a real person with real feelings? Forced to consider what she lives with on a day to day basis, terrified that her worst fears will come true and she will have to bury her own son. Remembering a conservation from the previous week where she shared with the class that her disoriented brother-in-law had called her the night before to ask for her sister’s phone number.  Her sister died five years prior and he is the widower.

An old woman trying to make the best of her remaining years, latched on to me as someone she sees as wise and brave, maybe like the daughter she wished she had instead of a drug addict son.

Maybe the most difficult people in our lives are the ones who need the most compassion. Maybe each of us is the most difficult person in someone else’s life and we don’t even realize because we’re just trying to show affection in the only way we know how. Maybe someday we too will be old and sad.

Maybe I allow guilt to cloud my judgement.

About this latest update Kim said, “Showing support for her situation and keeping the class going are two different issues.”

Xavier said, “This is not what you signed up for. Your job is to teach the class, not to get sucked into these personal situations. If you want to stop teaching the class then stop. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Due largely to it’s deliciousness, the Pinot Noir from Robert Mondavi is a wise and gentle wine, allowing my mind relax just enough to be reasoned with. Shelly’s recommendation was spot on and I would absolutely serve a glass of this delectable wisdom to my mother and to all of my friends.

I canceled the class.

It’s Hard To Find Good Help These Days

black-and-white-cup-hand-mug

Raise your hand if you remember walking into a business, asking for an application, filling it out (with a pen), talking to the manager and going home with a job.

Anyone?… Bueller?… (tap tap) Is this thing on?

I am either from the dark ages or I have been self employed for a long time.

Maybe both.

While I type like a three toed sloth, I do know a whole lot about a few things. I have survived in work environments so insane that they defy description. I have put in my 10,000 hours more than once.

I am smarter than some but it doesn’t necessarily work in my favor and the hardest thing is trying to conceal the fact that I don’t play well with others. There was a reason for being self-employed, and that’s the reason.

Trying to rejoin the workforce after nine years of riding fences is challenging but I’m tired of being cold, wet, and hungry so I’m coming around like a stray dog that is ready to give domestication a whirl.

Have you applied for a job lately? If not, and you have a whole lot of time to waste, I highly recommend it.

I’ve been interviewing with the nation’s largest retailer of used automobiles. Three interviews and literally dozens of long form essay questions later and I still don’t know if I have secured the entry-level position of Buyer’s Assistant.

This job is my top pick and working in my favor is that almost everyone I have interviewed with, five different people now, are either former personal trainers or former business owners. Apparently, this is the place where desperado types go when they decide to throw in the towel and get a real job.

But since I still  don’t know if I actually have the job, I take nothing for granted and continue applying at other places.

Long gone are the days of filling out an application and talking to an actual person. This is the age of the online assessment and mind-blowingly redundant questions. I just applied at Short Burst Cellular and was asked no fewer than ten times if I try to understand why people act the way they do and if I enjoy analyzing my own feelings. The other questions are, naturally, all related to how well I play with others and how receptive I am to taking bullshit from customers. I also applied at Horizon and spent thirty minutes answering questions like, “would you rather be subject to incessant interruptions OR be on the phone with angry customers all day?”  Would you rather stab a fork in your eye or drop this kettle bell on your foot?

I can’t help but wonder; who scores high on these tests? According to the job description, it’s people with a passion for customer service. Maybe my definition of passion differs from theirs. I say the word passion is reserved for art and science or a cause that changes the world.

Customer service is a vital bodily function of any business. The business cannot survive without it but it is not something for which I would equate the word passion.

Customer service is necessary of course, but only so that the company can succeed at what it’s passionate about – making money. Who wakes up in the morning and can’t wait to be interrupted constantly by people who are complaining about problems that are beyond their control?

People work customer service jobs out of necessity and in hopes of getting promoted. Let’s not pretend that necessity and passion are the same thing. This is why so many people burn out when they find a way to monetize their hobby, because necessity kills passion.

But back to my original question. Who scores high on these tests?

The U.S. has notably gone down hill when it comes to producing well educated young adults with high levels of etiquette or common sense. Not pointing fingers but…perhaps it is they who have necessitated the rise of the assessments in the first place. Having limited video game vocabularies makes them easy targets for swapping the words necessity and passion and tricking them into thinking it was their own idea.

One of the questions, or rather – statements, at the end of the Horizon assessment was, “I feel this assessment gives a good initial impression of the company values and makes the company seem like an attractive place to work.”  Strongly Agree. Agree. Slightly Agree. Slightly Disagree. Disagree. Strongly Disagree. Fuck Me.

Is the talent pool so shallow that the word passion has become displaced and is now being used in reference to customer service for lack of anything legitimate to be passionate about? In a world of young adults who would rather reside on their parent’s couches than blaze a trail into the frontier of freedom it makes sense.

Firmly rooted on the sofa like baby birds waiting to be fed, they would naturally have no concept of doing something unpleasant out of necessity because, thus far, they’ve spent all day texting their friends but meals still appear on the table at regular intervals.

In all fairness I may be projecting, displacing, evening blaming my hatred of online job assessments on other people in an effort to not throw my computer out the window and spend my remaining days walking the earth like Caine in Kung Fu.

I may be, or I may be the Johnny Come Lately frog to the pot of boiling water.

It is possible, after all, that the assessments exist specifically to weed out people like myself.



Yes, please.

img_7944
What will you focus on?

What does it mean?

How will you respond?

Winds of change are blowing around here. I’ve been afflicted with a desire to stop doing things all the time, to stop spending every last waking moment trying to do something.

I think maybe it’s time to reconsider my success strategy.

I closed a business three years ago.  It was a business that made me temporarily rich and less temporarily poor.  It was a short love with a long divorce.

I tried to bounce back but it didn’t come back. Not the business itself, I didn’t want that back, but the income – from any source at all – it didn’t come back and I’ve been so broke for so long now that it almost doesn’t seem weird anymore.

But it is weird and it’s not ok and I’m done.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve wasted my time. To the contrary, some would argue that I have helped facilitate life altering transformations for quite a few people.  I would say, “that’s nice but it’s come at my own expense.”

Not one of the people I’ve helped would be willing to do what I do for the amount of money that I walk away with.  Absolutely not, they wouldn’t even consider it.  I show up for them, whether I feel like it or not, but my wellbeing is left to their sense of convenience.  They think nothing of their work meetings and endless vacations, naturally they do what they need to do and now the time has come to turn the coin.

The answer is easy, if you take it logically.

The focus has to change to taking care of business on the home front. What that means is renegotiating my deal with the universe in regards to paychecks. The proper response is to say “yes, please” when offered an opportunity to join the world of functioning adults.

Soo…, yes please.



A Few Moments In The Cenozoic Era

img_7940

65 million years ago a meteor six miles wide crashed into the Earth. The residents blamed Obama and said that the meteor was part of a conspiracy to support his new world order. Choking on ash and poison gas, most of them died shortly thereafter thus turning the last page of the Mesozoic Era.

Organisms go extinct when they can no longer adapt to the prevailing climate.

Included on the short list of survivors was the winged dinosaurs and they flew on to see the dawn of a new age.

The Cenozoic Era continues today.

When I was 31, the tumbleweeds and goat-heads had overgrown the land between my back wall and the road.  Being a good citizen, I called the city to complain. The bored woman on the phone said, “Yep, alright”, and hung up.  The following week, everyone who lived on my street received citations from the city demanding that all the weeds be cleared from behind each respective house on the land between the back wall and the road. The land, that falls behind each person’s property but that the homeowners are not allowed to use in any way, yes, that land which was not ours.  The citation read, in no uncertain terms, “Remove the weeds yourself or we will have them removed and send you the bill.”

Way to go, Slick.

I never told the neighbors that I was the one who complained to the city.

Last week I turned 41.

The previous day, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but Donald Trump became President Elect of the United States – making this the 2nd election in twenty years where the choice of the people was misrepresented by the electoral college.

Some may consider this to be an evolutionary step backwards, like webbed nostrils or the development of genitals in close proximity to the rectum, but in the year of post truth others have a feeling that America is on it’s way to becoming great again.  I say we called to complain about the weeds and, in doing so, won Shirley Jackson’s Lottery.

Be careful what you ask for, America.  God won’t save us if we can’t adapt.