I’m sorry, America. But, it’s just not that easy.

Like most of you, I have knee jerk reactions to many things I see.  Someone abuses a pet, I want to take them outside for a good old fashioned visit to the barn.  I have even stronger reactions as crimes become more violent or personal.  I don’t like paying money to the government to see them waste it on stupid projects, on people who don’t deserve it, or on entire countries who don’t appreciate it.

But, I also know that this IS a knee jerk reaction.  The adult in me says, “Wait up just a minute.  Don’t jump to conclusions.  Don’t be that jerk who screams for blood only to find out that the situation isn’t at all like it first sounded.”

America it’s time to put our adult hats on and start thinking seriously about what can honestly be done about our problems.  In just a few short months we are going to be asked to choose who will run this country.  Who we are going to put in charge of a country that makes TRILLIONS of dollars every year.  We are going to ask them to direct those funds into our national defense, our social safety net, and our infrastructure.

Both the Republican and the Democratic primaries have revealed just how corrupt our system is becoming.  We have two populist (Sanders, Trump) candidates on each side who are swaying the masses with a call for reform.  We have two candidates (Clinton, Kasich) who represent their respective parties more traditional (labor, big business) interests.  We have one candidate who represents a more Conservative religious right position (Cruz).  We have a virtually stalemated Congress and a crippled Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, our middle class is diminishing in size, our country is exporting needed jobs overseas, major corporations legitimately and illegitimately pay less and less in taxes.  The number of poor is increasing, and the wealthy see their incomes reaching into tens of BILLIONS of dollars.  The disparity is mind-numbing.

Our medical system is a worldwide disgrace.  We pay dozens, if not hundreds of times more for our medications than anyplace else on earth.  Every civilized nation on earth has managed to work out how to fairly handle universal health care, but our complex system of competition between, doctors, dentists, hospitals, pharmacies, the pharmaceutical industry, and insurance companies has driven our healthcare system into a worldwide laughingstock.

Our educational system is foundering.  We have some of the best universities in the world, but our best and brightest come out with a degree and so far in debt that they might as well be sold as indentured servants.

We speak of how high we hold our freedom, and yet almost HALF of the world’s prisoners are in our jails – more than any dictatorship in history.

We speak of treating everybody equally, yet, HALF of black American males will find themselves in jail at least once during their lifetime.

We have a giant statue in New York harbor which advertises us as the land which welcomes.  “Send us your tired,  your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”  Then we take miniscule number of refugees from the Syrian crisis and talk about closing our borders to all Muslims because they MIGHT be terrorists.

We talk about respecting the rights of sovereign nations and then we scream approval for talk about blackmailing a foreign government into building a wall that would cost them tens of billions of dollars to construct.  Why?  To stop illegal immigration into our country.  Yet, we know that those same people are being used by OUR businesses to farm, to pick our crops, to prepare our food, to do countless thankless jobs.  Who is really to blame?  The immigrant desperate for money to feed a family, the company who hired him because he (or she) would work for sub-par pay?  Perhaps we are also a bit to blame?  We want our good and labor cheap (unless we are doing the work).  We don’t push to have the companies owners penalized more heavily.  We underfund the INS and the border patrols. We allow enclaves to develop where such people can hide.  We allow places to develop where drugs and silence rule.

We have nation states vying to create nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missle systems to deliver them.  We have a slowly re-arising cold war.  We have the potential for worldwide epidemics that can spread at an alarming rate and are resistant to our best drugs.

And then there are the issues we don’t want to be true,  Global warming, diminishing worldwide fresh water supply, overpopulation, species extinction.

I don’t care who you vote for.  That is your right.  But I do care that you think about just how fragile our world situation is.   Stop looking for simple, easy solutions.  There are none.  This election is important – and not just at a presidential level.  It is not just about one issue.  It’s not about one knee jerk reaction.  It’s not time to pick somebody who recognizes your personal hot button as being a real issue that they can talk about.

It’s time to look carefully at the solutions being offered by the candidates to all the issues.  Are they truly realistic?  Who has credibility on the world stage?  Who has actually checked the math to see if their programs are actually financially doable?

Also, don’t be gulled by people on talk shows with an agenda.  Right and left wing pundits get paid to make things dramatic, to exaggerate, and in many cases to outright lie.  Check the claims of BOTH sides.  Fact check with independent organizations.

Then make up your mind.

Stop imagining that you can pick a candidate based on one issue.  The country, the world, is much more complicated than that.

It’s time to be grown-ups now.

Go vote.

Food Review – Two Gulls Restaurant

Two Gulls Restaurant

2 State St
Narragansett, RI 02882

Special Note:  I’m including this review because I liked the restaurant.  The review was written several months ago for Yelp.  Unfortunately, Two Gulls closed over the winter and failed to re-open.  My compliments to the owners for creating such an interesting dining experience and I hope your next endeavor proves to be a massive success.  I’m leaving the review just as I originally wrote it – in present tense as if the restaurant is still there.  For those who went, it is still there – at least as a fond memory.

Tucked away on the outskirts of Galilee, Two Gulls restaurant is a fun find on a cold blustery day. The restaurant is open with just a few tables, good lighting from large windows and a location that puts it within throwing distance of the fishing boats.

The food is hearty fare, served in good quantity. Don’t expect haute cuisine. This is make you warm, give you strength food. The people are friendly, and the locals like it on or off season. They have a small glass case near the register where you can find breakfast pasties, and the occasional quiche or two.

The steps do not allow for handicapped access and the doorway would make navigating difficult for a wheelchair – even if you got it up to the front porch entry. The restaurant does not advertise pet friendliness, but you can eat outside in summer so it might be possible to dine outside on the porch in the shade and have a canine friend nearby. Never tried it.

I liked the flavor and the portion size of the meal. I found the interior lacking in atmosphere, although the nautical theme was evident. I would say it is an open, friendly, place that would make a fun stop, but not a romantic or fine dining place.

David Dougher – author, ballroom dance instructor, computer consultant, game designer, and odd fellow.
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Food Review – Dante’s Kitchen

Dante’s Kitchen

315 Main St
East Greenwich, RI 02818

Dante’s Kitchen is located a fair distance down Main Street in East Greenwich. The food is very good and well prepared, but the menu is a bit sparse for choices. There are specials on a chalk board which add to the choices, but usually there are only two or three.

The thing that stands out about Dante’s is the quality of the food itself. Even a simple meal like scrambled eggs and bacon is tasty. Many restaurants that serve simple fare frankly taste little better than cardboard. Dante’s is a clear exception to this rule.

The dishes that are offered are interesting. I recently tried their burrito breakfast and I was very pleasantly surprised.

Alcohol is served and Mimosa’s and Bloody Mary’s can make for a more upscale meal.

The waitresses are friendly, and quick.

The place is small, a few tables of different sizes and an even smaller bar with a half dozen seats. The atmosphere is quiet and relaxed. This would be a good place for a small meeting, or an intimate breakfast in a corner by the windows. There is a large TV above the bar which can distract, but the sound is usually kept low.

No handicap access due to steep steps and a narrow door. No place for any animals either, although at one point in the late fall I did see some tables outside.

A pleasant dining experience for a reasonable price.

David Dougher – author, ballroom dance instructor, computer consultant, game designer, and odd fellow.
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Food Review – Phil’s Diner

Phil’s Restaurant

323 Main St
Wakefield, RI 02879

Phil’s Diner is a Wakefield landmark, located near the center of Main Street and Robinson. The restaurant has three different dining areas. The first and oldest, is a simple booth and table arrangement located on the first floor. There is a long counter area. The second is located above the first and has several small tables and a couple of nooks for intimate dining. The third area is upstairs and across a walkway for open rooftop dining.

Phil’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinners at all three locations. There are bars located on the second floor and on the rooftop so drinks can be had at any meal. The place has become popular with the college crowd and became a hero to the locals during a major power outage when they served food using their gas grills and battery powered lamps.

The food here ranges widely from straightforward hash and eggs to burgers to more elaborate meals in the evening. Pick your mood and pick your location. Outdoor dining doesn’t usually start until after 11 and is shut down during the cold weather or when serious storms are brewing. The second floor does have a large screen TV dominating one wall, which can give a kind of sports bar feel, but it usually has the sound off.

If you want to try something different and have a sweet tooth, try the cinnamon roll french toast. I usually have mine with bananas and whipped cream. Serious sugar shock – keep away from small children!

Simple items (scrambled eggs, bacon, hash, home fries) are generally cooked on the open grills on the first floor. More elaborate food is prepared in the kitchen in the back.

Phil’s also has some excellent desserts, and a friendly wait staff. They seem to adjust to the dining you are looking for. So expect, a friendly, garrulous waitress on the first floor and a more subdued waiter on the second. Outside the atmosphere is faintly reminiscent of open air dining everywhere. Cocktails and a slower meal so you can soak up the fresh air. I wouldn’t recommend it for serious business meetings or large gatherings though the space is difficult for those kinds of events.

For outdoor dining in summer I recommend arriving just before five pm. The crowd has not arrived. The sun is usually setting and the air has a mild but not annoying breeze. For breakfast get there early and don’t be surprised if there is a line in good weather, especially on Saturday.

Good food, good price and good ambiance depending on what you are looking for.

David Dougher – author, ballroom dance instructor, computer consultant, game designer, and odd fellow.
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Food review – Middle of Nowhere Diner

The Middle of Nowhere Diner

222 Nooseneck Hill Rd
Exeter, RI 02822

The Middle of Nowhere is suitably named, located far from any of the major towns in South County on Rte. 3 not far from Rte 95.

Food at this establishment is served in portions that go beyond generous. Four egg omelets are the norm.

My personal favorite is made with cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, and thinly sliced turkey. Served with home fries or a fresh fruit salad and a cup of excellent coffee that was kept filled for the duration of my meal.

Waitresses are friendly, and the site has two entrances both of which can accommodate a wheelchair.
Food here is a solid meal that would leave a burly truck driver sated. I noticed a large lumber truck outside when I arrived and a small collection of pickup trucks and flannel shirts on my entrance. Family fare is a powerful draw and I often see groups of children crowded into the booths arguing over who has to share their waffles.
If you come here in summer be sure to leave room for ice cream at the appropriately named Next to Nowhere Ice Cream Shack – a giant barn structure that deserves it’s own review.

However, if you don’t feel like ice cream, or it’s the wrong time of year, don’t pass up the opportunity to try some of the delicious desserts that are available after your meal… if you can find the room.
The Middle of Nowhere may be hard to find, but it’s worth looking for.
   
David Dougher – author, ballroom dance instructor, computer consultant, game designer, and odd fellow.
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Food Review – The Cooked Goose

The Cooked Goose

92 Watch Hill Rd
Westerly, RI 02891

 

The Cooked Goose is one of the prides of Westerly Restaurant lovers. Located near the water is has both indoor and outdoor dining. Parking is a bit tricky but there is ample room in the back once you negotiate the narrow road or angled driveway.
The interior is lovely with a large stone fireplace and comfortable large chairs or more traditional tables and chairs inside and out. The staff was prompt and courteous. We were seated quickly and menus arrived within moments.

I noticed a mixture of locals and tourists and a smattering of business suits and beachwear.

The open layout keeps this from being a particularly romantic dining experience, but sitting near the fireplace after a blustery morning out on the water would be really pleasant.

I was surprised by the flavor and texture combinations. My favorite was a salmon Benedict with hash browns substituting for the traditional English muffin or bolo. Coffee was also very good, and it’s not something I usually notice unless it is very good (or very bad).

Like most restaurants located in toruist areas there are glass cases with things to buy to remember the trip, and a rather large selection of dessert items, pastries, and some of that delicious coffee to go.

The Cooked Goose is for breakfast and brunch and runs year round, (although there is a several week break near the beginning of the year – call before you drive out.)

It is definitely worth the drive to find it.

   
David Dougher – author, ballroom dance instructor, computer consultant, game designer, and odd fellow.
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Food Review – Celestial Cafe

Celestial Cafe

567 S County Trl
Exeter, RI 02822

Celestial Cafe is one of the best restaurants in South County. It is remarkable not only for its food, but for the speed and flexibility of the cooking staff in preparing it. Many restaurants have large menus composed of dishes that sound delicious, but have one item you can’t stand. The chef’s at Celestial take such changes in stride. The waitstaff will often suggest alternatives as substitutes. So you don’t just remove the kale from a dish, the staff will substitute swiss chard upon request.

The food is swiftly prepared even when the place is hopping. I have had a complex breakfast prepared just for me in a small area just off the bar while an entire baby shower group was filling the main dining hall having lunch. No unreasonable delays, no excuses, just simple timely service.

Celestial does a Saturday brunch with a wonderful selection backed by local organic produce. My personal favorite is working my way down the list of amazing French Toast recipes. You can find everything from coconut rum to a homemade strawberry/blueberry compote that was so delicious I wanted to lick the plate. I have trouble prying my friends away from shrimp seafood omelettes.

Celestial is handicap accessible, the waitstaff is courteous, friendly, and very professional. Brandon, one of the owners and the head chef often visits the patrons to check on their dining experience.

Celestial also has a large well-stocked bar, and the Saturday night dinner crowd will find a happy place with a pleasant atmosphere.

And if you get the chance, try the chips – homemade and warm with their special sauce. They are served any time of day.

David Dougher – author, ballroom dance instructor, computer consultant, game designer, and odd fellow.
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