Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ten things not to buy new

“My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.” ― Peter Golkin

I'M A waste-not-want-not kind of a gal. Might stem from growing up poor, but I suspect that I'm also just too practical by nature not to consider what other ways something might be able to be used. I like the idea of using less resources — except when it comes to shoes, in which case I'm completely insane and irresponsible. 


Here's a list from CBS News of the ten things they say that you should never buy new. (My thoughts follow in italics after what CBS has to say about each item.)



1. Cars



This had to be No. 1 on the list, right? After all, we've talked about it time and time again: The value of a new car drops like a rock as soon as you drive it off the lot. Rather than be upside-down on your car loan five minutes after signing the paperwork, look for a quality used car that has already taken the huge depreciation hit.


Boy howdy, am I a big believer in this! Our theory is — let the person before you pay all that depreciation, and if it's a late model higher-end car, whoever owned before probably took really good care of it. We recently bought a 2013 Buick Regal with leather interior, power everything, heated seats and steering wheel that was a screaming deal and has turned out to be an excellent car.


2. Big toys like boats, motorcycles and RVs





Actually, that advice about buying a used car can apply to any type of vehicle. With rare exceptions, virtually anything with an engine -- from off-road vehicles to yachts -- will depreciate in value over time. In most cases, you'll get more bang for your buck by purchasing used.

We bought our sailboat from a friend . . . and our big-ass snowblower.

3. Houses


Your house is another big-ticket item that it makes sense to buy used rather than new. Not only can you save money, but older homes also may have better "bones" than some new construction. If you love the idea of new construction, don't forget that an existing home doesn't necessarily have to be one that's 50 years old. If you want an energy-efficient home with new amenities, you can probably find it at a lower price if you're willing to be owner No. 2 or 3.

4. Timeshares


Don't ever pay full price for a timeshare. Some people are practically giving them away because they're so desperate to get out from under the annual fees.

5. Books





We could take this category one step further and say you shouldn't buy books, period. After all, many of us live near a public library system that can meet most of our reading needs. However, we won't go quite to that extreme. I personally enjoy having a well-stocked home library. I also realize that some books, such as college textbooks, have to be purchased. But that doesn't mean you have to pay full price. Head to Half.com or the Amazon Marketplace to buy cheap used books, which are often as good as new.


I started a little book-sharing circle, and I admit, I'm kinda proud of myself for doing it. We had a complete series of Nevada Barr/Anna Pigeon mysteries that Paul and I read. I thought, "Why let them sit on a shelf gathering dust?" So I've been mailing them two at a time to a Facebook friend, who reads them and mails them on to another FB friend, who reads them and sends them on to yet another friend. I love having at least five people benefit from one item. How earth-friendly and friend-friendly is that?!?!


6. Movies and CDs




Many of the same places that sell used books also sell used DVDs, Blu-Rays and CDs. No need to spend money for a new disc when you can get a cheaper, used one online, at a garage sale or in the thrift shop. Of course, there's also the library, where movies and music are free for the (temporary) taking and cheap when the library holds a sale.


7. Sports gear





Raise your hand if your kids have ever started a sport and quit after one season. I'm right there with you. Instead of spending tons for new equipment, go to a specialty store like Play It Again Sports and buy used items. You can also scour garage sales, thrift stores and Craigslist for bargain finds. Don't forget to look for fitness equipment for yourself, too. Buying new weights and kettlebells doesn't make sense if you can get used ones for a fraction of the price.


8. Musical instruments





Musical instruments are another parental purchase that could be money down the drain. A quick check of Craigslist shows plenty of people trying to unload old instruments. To avoid buying something overpriced or broken, consider spending a few dollars to have it appraised by a local music store. Or buy a used item directly from a shop. Renting an instrument is another optionSince. However, keep in mind that renting a clarinet for three years could ending up costing you more than if you purchased a used one in the first place.
I agree that it's wise not to spring for a fancy, new instrument for a beginner and that getting a used instrument looked at by an expert is essential but for a professional musician, as Paul is, all bets are off. New, custom, one-of-a-kind, hand-made — yup, that's what we're talking about.

9. Jewelry

Like vehicles, jewelry typically depreciates in value, which makes it better to buy used than new. Before buying off Craigslist or from a private seller, be sure to get an appraisal, particularly if a significant amount of money is involved. You can also find quality used baubles by shopping for estate jewelry from jewelers or reputable pawn shops. If you want to buy online, eBay and ExboyfriendJewelry.com may be good ways to go so long as you keep your eyes open for scams and use a safe payment method (e.g., no wire transfers, people).
Speaking personally, I'm not so sure about this. If you're buying for yourself, okay, but if you're buying something as a gift for the woman (or man) you love, I'd say probably not. Better to develop a personal relationship with a jeweler you trust who over time could potentially swing you some deals. Paul and I used to have a personal jeweler at Joseph's. Whether it was a large purchase or a small one, we always went to him. Based on my recommendation, friends of mine also became his customers and as a result, he treated us well.

10. Pets

Some of you might disagree, but there really is no reason to spend a lot of money on a brand new pet when plenty of pre-loved (or not so loved) animals are looking for homes. My local animal shelter and humane society regularly have free or almost-free adoption days, during which you can get dogs and cats, as well as other pets from bunnies to birds. Your local shelter might offer the same. Unless you're planning to show your pet, spending hundreds or even thousands on a purebred animal is probably not money well-spent. The $50 puppy from the pound is just as likely as the $500 puppy from a breeder to smother you with wet kisses and stare at you with unbridled adoration.
Oh hell yes! There are SO many wonderful animals in shelters just waiting to be adopted. Why do anything else?!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cotton, yes cotton

“I am a huge fan of big cotton underpants; they're comfortable. I wear them every day.” — Gisele Bundchen

AS WE were driving through Arkansas seeing rice fields all around us, I was looking up information about rice-growing (see previous post, Kansas City to Memphis) and learned that rice is the #1 field crop in Arkansas, soybeans comes in at #2 and cotton is #3.




I hoped to see some cotton fields, but since it was early spring, I probably wouldn't recognize a newly-planted field of cotton if I saw it. Predictably — the name of this blog is, after all Hey Look Something Shiny — I had gotten curious about cotton. Where else is it grown? 

One would guess Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia; I also guessed Texas — and it turned out to be a good guess, but where else? Which state grows the most? Which countries?

I got the answers to those questions and more, and learned things about cotton I wouldn't have otherwise known.

First from Statista.com, here is a list of the biggest cotton-producing states in 2015.



Below is a list of the countries producing the most cotton in 2015.



The predominant type of cotton grown in the United States is American Upland (Gossypium hirsutum). Upland cotton, which usually has a staple length of 1 to 1-1/4 inches, accounts for about 97 percent of the annual US cotton crop.

The remaining 3 percent, extra-long staple (ELS) cotton, is Gossypium barbadense. ELS denotes a cotton fiber of extraordinary length, a minimum of 1-3/8" or longer. This minimum is significantly longer than Upland cotton. 

As well as fiber length, ELS cotton is also recognized for its superior strength, uniformity and silky feel. Even with all the benefits of ELS fiber characteristics, it's grown only in limited quantities because ELS cotton varieties are quite specific in their requirements. They can only be grown in areas that suit the plant’s need for hot days and cool nights, and a significantly greater amount of crop management is required for ELS than for Upland cotton. 

The variety of ELS cotton grown the most here is American Pima

Although Pima cotton has been grown in the Southwestern US since the early 1900’s, the First World War boosted its research and development. The Defense Department had been looking for places to grow ELS cotton because its not only long-fibered, but exceptionally strong. 

At that time ELS was being used to make tire cords and high quality fabrics to cover the fuselage and wings of that still-new technological wonder, the airplane. In fact Goodyear, AZ was founded by the tire company of the same name to be close to the source of cotton production.

The end of the war and major changes in technology put a temporary halt to much of the US research into ELS cotton as cheaper, easier-to-produce materials found greater favor in aircraft and tires, but about 1950 the USDA and other cotton breeders began growing ELS cotton again for its superior luster and silkiness.

American ELS cotton was christened Pima in honor of Pima Indians who helped the government’s Pima breeding program since 1910 on the USDA experimental farm at Sacaton, Arizona.

I always wondered why linens and clothing make a point of specifically saying Pima cotton on the label. Now I know. Thanks Pima Native Americans.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Kansas City to Memphis

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” — Gustave Flaubert

AS I'VE mentioned before, Paul and I like taking driving trips together. We never seem to lack for things to talk about or do to pass the time. Sometimes we play car games, sometimes we listen to music, sometimes I read newspaper or magazine articles to him. Once I read an entire Harry Potter book to Paul on a long drive home.


We've been known to take some lengthy road trips. We drove from Key West straight home to Ankeny, IA in one long marathon of a drive, so by previous measures the drive from Kansas City to Memphis wasn't remarkable, although some of the curiosities we encountered along the way were.


In Clay County we drove past a sign pointing to Peculiar, MO, population 4797. I wanted to drive there so I could have my picture taken in what surely must be my home planet, but Paul said we've already been there. Well, maybe, but next time I want a picture. Picture, or it didn't happen.


We were continuing on our journey through Henry County 
on Missouri Route 7 when we looked out the window and saw a sign for Tightwad Bank. I am not making this up. But even funnier is that the bank was closed, and I don't mean just because it was Sunday. It was defunct, kaput, dead as a doornail . . . so completely so that there was a for-sale sign on it. Paul said, as he pointed out that the time on the big digital sign was 00, "I guess time has run out for Tightwad Bank."






We had to know more. (Isn't it amazing that we have an encyclopedia of information on our phones, for goodness sakes!!)

The bank was named for the unincorporated village in which it stands — although we didn't exactly see a town. Not too surprising. As of  2010, Tightwad had 18 families yielding a total of 69 people. According to Wikipedia, the town's unusual name "is said to stem from an episode in which a store owner cheated a customer, who was a postman, by charging him an extra fifty cents for a better watermelon. Some sources claim the transaction involved a rooster rather than a watermelon."


One of the founding bankers said that because of its name, people from across the country used to mail checks — up to a dozen arrived daily — addressed to Tightwad Bank, Tightwad, Missouri, sometimes without a ZIP code. Each contained a note asking for an account and an order of Tightwad Bank checks (who wouldn't have wanted to pay bills with checks that said Tightwad on them?!), and at one point the bank had $2.2 million in deposits.




In Texas County we came across Cabool, Licking and Plato and . . . wait for it . . . Sargent, MO. Had to go there! Paul did a U-turn and took the road to Sargent that after about four miles dead-ended into a dirt driveway and . . . one house. That was it! That was Sargent, MO, except there was a Sargent Cemetery, and there were some old, old graves.













Many of the graves just had rocks as markers.
May the souls and mortal remains of those in Sargent Cemetery rest in eternal peace.
As we drove through Arkansas we saw fields we've never seen in Iowa. Paul and I each independently guessed rice from the look of them, and we were right, but if we'd taken a quiz and been asked to name agricultural crops grown in Arkansas, neither one of would have ever put rice on the list.

I had to know. Does Arkansas produce a lot of rice? Which other states grow rice? What else does Arkansas grow?


As it happens, Arkansas is the #1 rice producing state in the country.


Top rice producing U.S. states in 2014 and 2015 (in 1,000 cwt) compiled by Statista.com






This second chart is from NORML, the organization working to legalize marijuana.



So there ya' go . . . a little info about Missouri and Arkansas. Next up cotton.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Unfortunately perfectly true

"There is no way to sufficiently sully a pig or mock a clown." — Charles M. Blow

I DON'T think it's possible to write a more perceptively accurate column than this one by Charles M. Blow for The New York Times. Just how stupid can this country of mine be?


BTW: I wrote about the cognitive dissonance between what's indisputably, factually true and 'belief' two years ago in The Facts and Why We Don't Believe Them.




Trump’s Asymmetric Warfare

By Charles M. Blow
May 16, 2016

It has been somewhat fascinating and sometimes fun to watch Elizabeth Warren do battle with Donald Trump in alternating salvos of tweets, but in the end I fear that this approach of trying to “beat a bully,” as Warren put it in one of her tweets, is a futile effort.


There is no way to sufficiently sully a pig or mock a clown. The effort only draws one further onto the opponent’s turf and away from one’s own principles and priorities.


There is no way to shame a man who lacks conscience or to embarrass an embarrassment. Trump is smart enough to know what he lacks — substance — and to know what he possesses in abundance — insolence.


So long as he steers clear of his own weakness and draws others in to the brier patch that is his comfort, he wins.


As MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said in December, this is asymmetric warfare. Conventional forms of political fighting won’t work on this man. Truth holds little power, and the media is still enthralled by the monster it made.


He is hollow, inconsistent, dishonest and shifty… and those who support him either love him in spite of it, or even more disturbingly, because of it.


He has waffled or equivocated or backtracked on tax plans, releasing his tax returns, his proposed Muslim ban, abortion and any number of issues.


It is hard to know where the hard bottom is beneath this morass of lies and bile. He has changed the very definition of acceptability as well as the expectations of the honor of one’s words. He has exalted the art of deceit to a new political normalcy.


This has made him nearly impervious to even the cleverest takedowns, and trust me, many have tried, comparing him to everyone from P. T. Barnum to Hitler.


But none of these comparisons are likely to shift public opinion. Some people will continue to see him, rightly, as an imminent danger to this nation and the world, and others will continue to see him as a salvation from it.


You see, part of the problem here is that some people believe, improbably, that virtue can be cloaked in vice, that what he says and what he means are fundamentally different, that the former is acting as a Trojan horse for the latter. One of Trump’s greatest pros is that he has convinced his supporters, all evidence to the contrary, that they are not being conned.


We are a society in search of an instant fix to some of America’s most intractable problems. Politicians of all stripes keep lying to us and saying things are going to be O.K.; that broad prosperity is just around the corner, only requiring minor tweaks; that for some of our issues there are clear good and bad options, rather than a choice between bad and worse options.


Into this mess of stubborn realities steps a simpleton with a simple message: Make America great again. We’ll win so much that you will get tired of winning.


Some folks want to be told that we could feasibly and logistically deport millions of people and ban more than a billion, build more walls and drop more bombs, have ever-falling tax rates and ever-surging prosperity. They want to be told that the only thing standing between where we are and where we are told we could be is a facility at crafting deals and a penchant for cracking down.


This streamlined message appeals to that bit of the population that is frustrated by the problems we face and quickly tires of higher-level cerebral function. For this group of folks, Trump needn’t be detailed, just different. He doesn’t need established principles, as long as he attacks the establishment.


This part of America isn’t being artfully deceived, it is being willfully blind.


One the one hand, over Trump’s life and over this campaign he has been so wrong in so many ways that there is a danger that the sheer volume of revelations may render the hearers numb to them.


On the other, as Joe Keohane wrote in the Boston Globe in 2010:


“Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.”


Supporting Trump is a Hail Mary pass of a hail-the-demagogue assemblage. Trump’s triumph as the presumptive Republican Party nominee is not necessarily a sign of his strategic genius as much as it’s a sign of some people’s mental, psychological and spiritual deficiencies.


It’s hard to use the truth as an instrument of enlightenment on people who prefer to luxuriate in a lie.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

How Trump treats women

“Don’t you think my daughter’s hot? She’s hot, right?” — Donald Trump speaking about his then teenaged daughter Ivanka

REGALING you with curiosities from the second leg of the birthday trip, the drive from Kansas City to Memphis, is just going to have to wait. This article from The New York Times about Donald Trump's exploitative, predatory, creepy treatment of women throughout his life is too important for you to miss.


Despite the fact that I'm breaking rules — I was told by an editor at New York Magazine that it's okay to share the first 500 words, but beyond that, it should be a link — usually, when I share a column or article from another source I give you the whole piece contained within my post so you don't have to click on and follow a link.


With this particular New York Times article, however, I'm abiding by the rules because it's such a long piece, and because there are a number of sidebars, photos and graphics that I don't want you to miss.


I take vehement issue, however, with one thing the authors say. In this piece written by Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey, they describe Trump's relationships with women as contradictory and complex. 


In my opinion, they're neither. They're simple and homogeneous; he consistently uses women to his advantage. It may be for sexual or ego gratification, or it may be within one of his companies because, as he himself said, he can get more work out of a woman than a man. People are assets to be used and manipulated, and none more so than women.


I'm giving you the first 500 words; then you'll have to click on the link to finish. Just find where you were when you left off, and scroll down to read the rest. He's a creep!



Donald's "hot" daughter, Ivanka, sitting on daddy's lap



And yet again 

Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women in Private

Interviews reveal unwelcome advances, a shrewd reliance on ambition, and unsettling workplace conduct over decades.

Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey

Mar 14, 2016 

Donald J. Trump had barely met Rowanne Brewer Lane when he asked her to change out of her clothes.




Ms. Brewer Lane, at the time a 26-year-old model, did as Mr. Trump asked. “I went into the bathroom and tried one on,” she recalled. It was a bikini. “I came out, and he said, ‘Wow.’ ”


Mr. Trump, then 44 and in the midst of his first divorce, decided to show her off to the crowd at Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Palm Beach, Fla. “He brought me out to the pool and said, ‘That is a stunning Trump girl, isn’t it?’ ” Ms. Brewer Lane said.


Donald Trump and women: The words evoke a familiar cascade of casual insults, hurled from the safe distance of a Twitter account, a radio show or a campaign podium. This is the public treatment of some women by Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president: degrading, impersonal, performed. “That must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees,” he told a female contestant on “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Rosie O’Donnell, he said, had a “fat, ugly face.” A lawyer who needed to pump milk for a newborn? “Disgusting,” he said.


But the 1990 episode at Mar-a-Lago that Ms. Brewer Lane described was different: a debasing face-to-face encounter between Mr. Trump and a young woman he hardly knew. This is the private treatment of some women by Mr. Trump, the up-close and more intimate encounters.



Rowanne Brewer Lane, who met Mr. Trump when she was a 26-year-old model

The New York Times interviewed dozens of women who had worked with or for Mr. Trump over the past four decades, in the worlds of real estate, modeling and pageants; women who had dated him or interacted with him socially; and women and men who had closely observed his conduct since his adolescence. In all, more than 50 interviews were conducted over the course of six weeks.


Their accounts — many relayed here in their own words — reveal unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct, according to the interviews, as well as court records and written recollections. The interactions occurred in his offices at Trump Tower, at his homes, at construction sites and backstage at beauty pageants. They appeared to be fleeting, unimportant moments to him, but they left lasting impressions on the women who experienced them.


CLICK HERE to read the entire New York Times article.


Friday, May 13, 2016

What we saw and heard in KC

“Kansas City, I would say, did more for jazz music, black music, than any other influence at all. Almost all their joints that they had there, they used black bands. Most musicians who amounted to anything, they would flock to Kansas City because that's the place where jobs were plentiful.” — Jesse Stone, American rhythm and blues musician and songwriter 

IN ADDITION to our visit to The Nelson-Atkins Museum, we crammed a lot of art and music into the short time we were in Kansas City.


WHAT WE SAW


I have an admired Facebook FriendPaul Quintanilla, whose father was Luis Quintanilla, a renown cubist and modernist Spanish painter (1893 - 1978) imprisoned during the Spanish Civil War. While he was in exile from war-torn SpainLuis spent 1940-41 at what was then the University of Kansas City, now the University of Missouri Kansas City, as an artist in residence, and during that time he painted murals in Haag Hall on the UMKC campus. (Read more about the murals in HLSS's previous post An Epic Story of Art and War.)


Ever since I learned of the murals' existence, of course I wanted to see them, so Paul, generous and intrepid husband that he his, made sure that I did. Below are photos. 








WHAT WE HEARD 

Kansas City’s Blue Room is famous in the state and region as a jazz venue. As luck would have it, the weekend we were there, not just one, but two jazz trombonists were featured. Friday night was Delfeayo Marsalis and Saturday night was Grammy-nominated musician and composer, Alan Ferber
Paul had heard Delfeayo recently in Des Moines, and although I offered to get tickets for that concert before we left, Paul said he wanted to save space in his music brain for Mr. Ferber who was new to him.



Paul and Delfeayo Marsalis in Des Moines

(This is an entirely gratuitous picture of Paul with New York City 
trombonist and composer Ryan Keberle when he was in Des Moines 
with Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project a few months ago)

Alan is a New York-based trombonist and composer. All About Jazz NY called him “one of the jazz world’s premier composers and arrangers for larger groups.” Jazz Times magazine described his compositions as “inspired and meticulous” and L.A. Weekly pronounced him to be “one of the premier modern jazz arrangers of our time.”


The Blue Room performance we heard featured works from his 2014 Grammy-nominated big band release March Sublime and his brand new work for jazz nonet, Roots & Transitions, that was just released April 29 on Sunnyside Records.


Roots & Transitions includes eight movements. It was commissioned by a 2013 Chamber Music America: New Jazz Works Commissioning and Ensemble Development Grant with generous support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.



Alan Ferber in nonet form at the Blue Room on May 7, 2016.

Paul and Alan Ferber

Besides of course Alan, Paul was particularly impressed with the drummer and the trumpet player, Hermon Mehari. I wanted to take Hermon back with us to Des Moines. Not gonna' happen, but he will be playing Noce sometime in August. He’s superb, and a pal of Paul’s friend, trumpeter Chris Van Leeuwen

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Where we stayed, shopped and ate in KC

“Being born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in the very rural parts of Kansas led me to believe that everything was simple, everything made sense and that anything was possible.” — Chely Wright, American country music singer and gay rights activist

HERE'S more about the Kansas City leg of the birthday trip — places you'll love and one to avoid.


WHERE WE STAYED


Instead of opting for a hotel, Paul and I chose Hawthorn Bed and Breakfast. Located in Independence, it made for a bit more driving while we were there, but it was such an upgrade in experience. The breakfasts were huge and delicious, the hosts were welcoming and cheerful, and the cost was much less than a KC hotel of comparable style and grace.









This was our room










WHERE WE SHOPPED 

When we came to Kansas City to get Paul’s trombone customized at BAC, we discovered Legends Outlet Mall. It isn’t anything particularly special, but it has a store called Charming Charlie that I’ve since come to refer to as The Cheap Purse Store. It’s a toy store for grown girls. Half of the one in KC is chockablock with sale purses, jewelry, tops and shoes — but mostly purses. I bought three. We popped across the walkway to Off Broadway shoes where Paul got a couple of pairs, and I bought a stylin’ pair for $8.00. Shoot, score.


WHERE WE ATE


We would have loved to have had time to have dinner at our favorite near-Kansas City restaurant, Justus Drugstore, but their location in Smithville and our limited schedule didn't allow for it. We knew that would be the case before we left town, so we selected an alternate restaurant to try the night of our arrival, called Eden Alley Vegetari√†, but we stayed so long at Nelson-Atkins that it was too late to have dinner there. 


We ended up making a last-minute decision (and as it turned out, a bad one) to try Eat Me Gourmet. The website description made it sound appealing: southern cooking all made from scratch. Don't go there!!


It's located in a tavern, which wouldn't be bad in itself, but in addition to food, it serves up LOUD, second-rate, live country music and the food takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I ordered mango chicken. When I did, I specifically inquired as to whether it was particularly spicy, and I was assured that it was not. When it finally arrived (emphasis on finally), however, it was so completely covered in cajun spices that I couldn't eat more than literally two bites. 


We sent it back, and I ordered chicken soup instead. Now one would have thought that since you already had a customer who had to wait a really long time for food she couldn't eat, you'd make sure the soup came out quickly. You would be wrong. I waited and waited and waited. It took 15 or twenty minutes to arrive. Oh yeah, and Eat Me Gourmet is right next door to a cigar emporium, and that's what's you get to smell all through your meal . . . when it eventually arrives. So do yourself a favor; don't go there! 


The following day we made it to Eden Alley located in the lower level of Unity Temple in the Plaza. It was a perfect day, so we sat outside to eat. I had the Avocado Sammy, described on the menu as "toasted local farm-to-market, eight-grain garlic bread baked with tomatoes, avocado and lemon basil coconut aioli, with gooey mozzarella, greens and pickled onions." 
I shared bites with Paul, and we both loved the complex flavors, plus it was big enough for two people or two meals. 


Paul had the Falafel Platter, and he said it was the best falafel he's ever had in his life because the falafel is soft all the way through, not cooked hard on the outside like usual. All of their food is also available in vegan, and much of it can be had gluten-free. This restaurant is the opposite of Eat Me Gourmet in every good way!