Despite the fact that I don’t live in or blog about Cleveland, last night I attended the Cleveland Webloggers August meetup organized by George Nemeth. No one seemed to mind that I live in Willoughby, or that my blog doesn’t typically wander into the realms of Cleveland politics, ((Or any politics, for that matter.)) society, art or industry. ((Let’s be honest here: I rarely even go to Cleveland. Prior to last night’s meetup, the last time I was anywhere near downtown and not just driving through was a Refresh Cleveland meetup back in May, and I was really just tagging along with now-expatriate Chris Miller. It’s not that I don’t like the city, I’m just not close enough to it that I feel compelled to visit on a regular basis. Plus, I used to have some real issues getting out of Cleveland once I got in, (I’m much better now, thank you.) and I suspect I have some emotional scarring as a result.)) And since I wasn’t shunned or ostracized, I thought I’d write a quick blurb about the meetup.
Americano, a new restaurant at One Bratenahl Place. Fairly simple to find, despite the fact that I saw literally no signage. I believe the lack of signage has more to do with Bratenahl Place than Americano, but I suppose I could be wrong. The restaurant doesn’t currently have a web site, but chef Vytauras “Chef V” Sasnauskas does have a blog on Blogspot.
- George Nemeth (Optimistic Rebel, Brewed Fresh Daily)
- Toni Chanakas (Brewed Fresh Daily)
- Jeff Hershberger (My Future Past)
- Jeff Hess (Have Coffee Will Write, The Writing on the Wal)
- Barney Taxel (Taxel Image Group)
Topics of Discussion
After a round of introductions, George suggested that we play “Thinkers and Drinkers”. Everyone wrote a question on a piece of paper and tossed it into a hat. As our hostess came by at various times to check up on us, George asked her to fish a new question out of the hat. I’m paraphrasing a bit here, but these are the questions as I remember them (not necessarily in order of discussion):
- What do you think will change in 2009 (as compared to 2008)?
The immediate answer was that we in the United States will have a new Commander in Chief. No one at the table seemed especially saddened by this fact. There was some speculation as to whether the national economy will rebound after the election and if, in fact, the economy has yet reached the lowest point of its current slump. ((Are we still calling it a “slump” or have we begrudgingly accepted that it’s a recession?))
- Do bloggers have a responsibility to be honest in their blogging and do we need to have a “hard shell”?
Readers of this blog will know that honesty is something with which I have only a passing acquaintance; if I see honesty walking toward me, I will cross the street or duck into an alley to avoid it. My shell isn’t particularly hard (or my skin especially thick), but it’s something I’m working to improve. When we put our thoughts out there for all the world to see, it’s important to realize that not everyone will agree with or even appreciate those thoughts, and being able to take criticism (or outright attack) is essential to not being labeled an asshat.
This discussion also led down the road of the consequences of blogging, specifically the potential ramifications to a blogger’s continued employment. I try to keep this blog completely separate from my professional life. ((I have to stifle a giggle when I use the word “professional” when referring to myself.)) While it isn’t terribly difficult to determine which company I work for, you’ll never see me discussing that company or the details of my job here, except in abstract. The opinions expressed here are, obviously, my own and not those of my employer. I do not present myself as an authorized representative of said employer.
- If you learned you were going to die in a short time, how would you live your life differently?
This question arose because we had just received word that Cleveland-born Ohio Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones had died of a cerebral aneurysm. Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately, depending on the circumstances) people don’t always get a lot of warning with aneurysm, so I don’t know whether Tubbs-Jones was living her life with the expectation that death could be just around the corner. I cursed George for making me consider my own mortality, but ultimately I think Kyle would get sick of me if I knew I was going to die in a week.
- What is your pet approach to solving the problem of global climate change (née warming)?
There was a lot of talk about sustainability, eating local foods, cutting back on automobile usage and recycling. One interesting tidbit: ((I heard it from a guy who posts stuff on the Internet, so it must be true.)) if we were to eat only foods that had been shipped less than 200 miles to reach us, the main staple of our diet we would have to give up would be bread, as there is no wheat grown in the state of Ohio. We also wandered onto the topic of litter in general, and I expressed a desired to do various unpleasant things to people who flick their cigarette butts out of car windows. ((If you’re reading this and are such a person, you suck. There is simply no excuse for your behavior. If you’re reading this and you’re the person who dropped their cigarette butt in my front flower bed, you suck even more; I don’t know who you are, but if you’re ever in my house again, you owe me an apology for being a disrespectful guest and a littering asshat.))
I saw a very nice-looking steak at the other end of the table, as well as some calamari and a grilled chicken dish of some sort (I should have grabbed a menu). I ordered the Americano burger ((With fries, naturally. I should have asked if they make their own ketchup, as it seemed a little sweeter than what I’m used to. Not a bad thing, just different.)) and it was quite tasty. Later, when George, Barney and I adjourned to the bar, I had a bite of the sweet corn ravioli, which was excellent.
I started the evening with an Americano. There was orange juice in it. And liquor, but I can’t remember what. It had a nice little kick to it. After that, I switched to lattés and water. The lattés were good, but I managed to burn my tongue on the second one. Given that some of the earlier discussion centered on how litigious our society is, I briefly considered bringing a lawsuit against the bistro for not preventing me from being a dumbass but then I remembered that, while I may be a dumbass, I try not to be an asshat.
It was an interesting group of people to hang out with for a few hours, and George selected a good venue for the meetup. (I believe Americano will host the group again next month.) The conversation tended toward a little more depth than I’m used to (not one mention of Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! or Spider-Man), but it’s good to be pulled out of your comfort zone now and again. I plan to attend the September meetup, provided I don’t have any unexpected scheduling conflicts.