Gas Prices and Energy Policy

On a recent flight, a fellow passenger and I compared gas prices in our areas, which happen to be $2.69 in Chicago vs. $2.19 in Cincinnati). Although this is a far cry from the $4.00+ of not long ago, I’m sure all of us welcome the relief to our monetary pocket.

With failing gas prices in mind, I ask the following questions:

  • Will the public fall back into old driving habits?
  • Will the public continue to demand a progressive energy policy from Washington?
  • How will falling prices affect oil company profits?
  • Will the oil companies tighten supply to raise prices?

One thing for sure, as prices fall the public reacts less – which in turn keeps our energy policy in the file named Rhetoric.

Cruising for Wine

My wife and I just completed a Wine Cruise on the Celebrity Mercury. Besides onboard wine events, the 9-day itinerary featured wine regions at each port as we journeyed from Vancouver to San Diego. For wine lovers, I’m providing some tasting room notes for each stop.

Victoria, BC
Located in the heart of downtown Victoria, the Artisan Wine Shop features wines from British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. This tasty wine bar offers 6 free offerings that change daily. This was a pleasant surprise.

Seattle, WA
Found on Post Alley in the Pike Market District, The Tasting Room: Wines of Washington features many wines from Washington’s smaller producers. Wine lovers may select from thematic flights (for a very reasonable fee) or by individual wines. A must stop for wine lovers.

Astoria, OR
Located at the mouth of the mighty Columbia River, Astoria is a quaint stop for cruise ships. A short walk from the docks along the river walk, the Flying Dutchman tasting room was a pleasant surprise as the $5 tasting fee got us a full range of wines. Note that this tasting room wasn’t well marked. In town (near the Maritime Museum), we found another winery, but it was closed.

San Francisco, CA
Porting in beautiful San Francisco for two days gave us a chance to rent a car for heading north to our favorite wine region – Sonoma County. Since we’ve been to Sonoma before, we followed the recommendations of our cruise-dinner-table friends and drove to Healdsburg whose downtown is dominated with shops, restaurants, and tasting rooms around a quaint town square.

Downtown Healdsburg houses 22 tasting rooms! With many charging a tasting fee, here are a few tips and a link to a map.

  • Stop by the Visitors Information Center as it provides some free tasting cards.
  •  When visiting a tasting room, ask for recommendations for your next stop because it may lead to a complimentary tasting.
  • Williamson and Selby were pleasant surprises! 

Monterey, CA
Cannery Row is home to five fee-based tasting rooms. The Taste of Monterey provides the largest variety, plus the tasting fee is applied to a purchases.

San Diego, CA
Our time beautiful San Diego was limited, so we didn’t travel to the Temecula wine region. Within San Diego’s Old Town is a fee-based tasting room, which I didn’t try nor remember its name; but it’s located within Plaza del Pasado near the Temecula Olive Oil Company.

FYI: While on the ship, Peter Lehmann Shiraz was our dinner favorite.

The String of Lights

Readers: The lack of recent posts can be easily explained – a two-week vacation.

Meanwhile, I’m currently in the air flying (for work) from Washington Reagan to White Plains, NY. Fortunately, from my window seat during this night-time flight, I’m astonished to see a continual string of city lights from take off until shortly before landing.

Appearing as one long and endless glittering stand, our eastern seaboard is more densely populated that I imagined. Nonetheless, on this clear, October night, this beautiful site made me smile.

The Complex Ohio Vote

Though another election, Ohio is one of the battleground states. Although we appreciate the impact, consider this downside: We’ve been seeing campaign ads seemly forever.

Current polls have Senator Obama ahead ranging from 2 to 6%. For those not familiar with our state, here’s some information about us because Ohio is a diverse state. What is popular in one region of the state may not resonate elsewhere.

No Republican has ever won without Ohio. Yet, of Ohio’s 88 counties, Senator Obama only won 5 or 6 during the Ohio primary – all urban!

The three metro Cs create a line through the state: Cincinnati-Columbus-Cleveland. These three cities are very different from one another. Cleveland was the more industrial and the most established. Columbus is our capital and home to our largest university, yet has experienced the most growth. Many in Cleveland have eastern European roots while Cincinnati is blended with German Catholics and southern U.S. heritage. Cleveland has always been considered as Democratic, while Cincinnati as Republican. (Senator McCain will probably get around 60% of the Cincinnati-area vote.)

A Republican Cleveland Mayor (George Voinovich) served as a two-term governor and is one of our current senators. In 2004, President Bush’s campaign visits to southwestern Ohio always gathered big, enthusiastic crowds while serving as a fertile ground for campaign dollars. The Cincinnati area is the home of Republican leader John Boehner.

Smaller cities as Dayton, Akron, Canton, Toledo, and Youngstown are witnessing a shrinking industrial base. Ohio’s unemployment rate is over 7%.

Wright-Patterson AFB gives the military a large presence in Dayton.

Eastern Ohio is home to sulfur-containing coal, thus the potential impact of clean-coal technology. Because our proximity to coal, coal-burning power plants are scattered along the Ohio River.

The upper half of Ohio’s western side is our agricultural land containing many small towns representing Middle American values of strong family, hard work, and local pride. Politically, this area resembles Indiana.

Appalachian counties, south of the C-C-C line, culturally and politically resemble eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. I grew up in this traditional-Republican area (but I also have many life experiences throughout the state) and this region is its own. To learn more about this area and its importance in this election, here are two informative articles: Appalachia  &  Portsmouth.

So goes Ohio, so goes the nation.

On the Election and Student Drinking

I prepared a posting about Ohio as a swing state, but two articles in today’s Cincinnati Enquirer caught my interest this morning. So the swing state posting will wait until tomorrow.

In terms of my view of our presidential election, the blind faith of partisans drives me crazy. Citizens casting votes for reasons other than issues is pathetic. The continual lack of substance and sound-bite rhetoric from the candidates is insulting. For an independent moderate as myself, Washington Post columnist David Broder hit the nail on the head. Check it out.

The second involves a high school, an athlete, a parent, and drinking. Outcome of this case will impact the role of schools in their communities.

It seems local police caught an underage senior drinking and reported it to the school. After the school suspended the football player for four games, the parent filed a lawsuit seeking reinstatement through an injunction citing, “Senior year is a special time, and the football season does not go on forever.” The judge granted the preliminary injection and the case is off to the First District Court of Appeals.

Although the article begins by saying the student was suspended for drinking during the summer, it mentions only one date: September 2 (Tuesday) – the date police contacted the school. It did not mention the following (my discovery):

  • When the incident occurred
  • The first day of school (August 26th)
  • The first football game (August 22nd)
  • First day of football practice (sometime in early August)

Read for yourself.