It’s been a damned long winter, but signs of spring are everywhere.

I’ve finished my current bag of oatmeal–Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats. I don’t insist on the organic variant, but Amazon doesn’t seem to have the inorganic variety–and it’s warm enough I feel no urge to replace it.

The Chron is beginning to run baseball stories that have nothing to do with the As’ attempts to relocate outside of Oakland. According to the latest story, their slogan this year is “Rooted in Oakland”. I’d suggest they reconsider, but since they’ve already filmed commercials using the phrase, it’s probably too late. (To clarify, “root” has several meanings, not all of which convey the sort of message the As probably had in mind. In particular, the Australian slang interpretation makes it a darn good summary of the organization’s attitude towards the team’s fans over the past decade or so.)

And, arguably most importantly, the recent rains have resuscitated our lemon tree. After more than a year of producing next to nothing, it’s suddenly covered in lemons.

Let’s get one thing clear. I know some of you outside the Bay Area are thinking “Whoa, that writing thing must bring in pretty good money if he can afford a house with an attached citrus grove.” Untrue. It’s one tree. And, to be blunt, lemon trees are common around here, only slightly rarer than indoor plumbing. Granted, ours is a little unusual, in that–until the drought took its toll–it produced so many lemons we thought it must be part zucchini. But realty listings don’t even bother mentioning lemons; they’re just assumed.

But I digress.

It’s not exactly the season, but what can you do? When your lemon tree gives you lemons…

So there’s a jug of lemonade in the fridge, made to an exacting, complicated recipe:

  1. Combine one part sugar, two parts lemon juice, and six parts water.
  2. Mix well.

(You can make this at home, even if you don’t have a tree. Do not get packaged lemon juice, especially the kind that comes in a little plastic lemon. The flavor just isn’t there. Buy lemons and squeeze ’em yourself. Better yet, get the kids to squeeze ’em. It’ll keep them out of trouble for a few minutes and give them a sense of accomplishment.)

I know some of you are thinking “Sugar? No, honey!” It’s a valid point. But I’ve never had much luck with honey. It doesn’t dissolve as well as sugar.

And, while I’ve had some tasty honey-based lemonades, IMNSHO the flavor of the honey distracts from the pure lemon-sour/sugar-sweet contrast that’s the soul of the beverage.

Pitchers and catchers begin reporting to Spring Training on Sunday. Have a cold glass of lemonade and enjoy the turning of the season.

Redressing the Balance

I strive to maintain the proper balance between “snarky,” “curmudgeonly,” and “silly”. The last couple of posts have leaned too far towards “curmudgeonly,” threatening to fall into “grouchy”. To redress the balance, I thought it might be a good idea to take another swing through Kickstarter. If you can’t count on Kickstarter to cheer you up, who can you count on?

Hang on, let me try that again.

I thought it might be worth poking around Kickstarter. If I can’t find a few projects to let me ramp up the “snarky” and “silly” around here, I might as well just go full-on grouchy full-time and be done with balance. To improve the odds, I’m going to limit myself to food projects. They just don’t bring out my internal Oscar the way technology projects do.

Last chance to flee.

Still here? Great.

Catfe – This is Carlos’ second attempt to raise starter funds for a cat cafe in Los Angeles. The first try didn’t go very well, raising less than $10,000 toward the $350,000 goal. This time around, Carlos has a partnership in place with a local shelter, agreements with local business to supply themed (human) food, and a potential location selected. He’s also scaled back the goal to $250,000. We all know the only reason LA wants a cat cafe is that the Bay Area has one (well, almost: Oakland’s Cat Town is supposed to open this month, and San Francisco’s KitTea has signed a lease and is still hoping to open this year.) Good luck on your copycat project, Carlos.

Whipped Cream Pie A La Face!!! – I have to sympathize with Stephani’s desire to avoid selling chocolate bars and washing cars. But is it really wise for him to openly declare his lust for revenge on the football team’s coach? Hint: smashing the coach in the face with whipped cream might be satisfying, but it’s unlikely to gain you additional playing time. Still, the goal amount is low enough to be reachable. With a bit of advertising, and a lot of luck, Stephani’s fundraiser could go viral and support not just this year’s team, but future teams as well. The Kickstarter just went live today, so there’s plenty of time to get your pledges in.

Kiwi Berry Packaging Logo-Generic to Fantastic – Ken wants to get his farm’s kiwi berries into local markets. “Presenting our kiwi berries in an attractive and professional package is the first step!” he says. Umm. If you say so. I’d have thought testing the local demand might come first, but I’ll freely admit that I have no experience selling fruit. Ken has been selling grapes for eight years, so maybe he knows what he’s doing. In any case, he’s hoping to raise $1,100 to cover the cost of logo design, printing, and Kickstarter rewards. After one day, the total stands at… well, $0. Ken, are you sure you don’t need to make sure people in New York want kiwi berries?

OatsRun – A breakfast delivery service that only carries oatmeal? Sounds great. Just a few tiny quibbles. First, your name conjures up a most unappatizing mental image. “Run” should never be used in conjunction with food. Second, using all of your funding on “making the customer interface as engaging as possible” is putting the oats behind the horse. I’m getting a strong sense that your business plan is “build an app and then sell it to Facebook for billions”. Third, “lack of not achieving the required funding to build our online platform that we would like it to be” is NOT the biggest risk you face. If this Kickstarter proposal truly reflects the planning and effort you’ve put into the project, lack of funding isn’t a risk, it’s a certainty.

Tomato Sushi – A tuna replacement for sushi and sashimi. Let me get one thing out of the way up front: as a rule, I hate fake meat. Attempts to mimic the flavor and texture of meats are rarely successful. Worse, the (often explicit) attempt to fool meat eaters into going veg are smugly moralistic and condescending. I opened this project fearing the worst. I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it is an attempt to mimic the appearance and texture of tuna, but the makers admit right up front that the effort isn’t entirely successful. Even more refreshing, they haven’t even tried to duplicate the taste of tuna. They’ve gone for “fish-like when combine with rice”. In other words, a unique flavor of its own, rather than a pale attempt to reproduce the inherently irreproducible. Best yet, the Kickstarter is free of smugly moralistic claims for the superiority of vegetarianism. “You’ll not only get a delicious cruelty-free food” Oh, damn. So close. Jokes aside, I don’t see any tuna substitute eliminating the demand for real tuna, but I completely agree with their belief that the world needs an acceptable tuna alternative. As I write this, they’re 10% through their Kickstarter and they’ve made it to 30% of their 10,000 funding goal. I may just pledge a few dollars myself.

I don’t know about you, but I feel much better now.