Better to be Lucky than Good

While sitting here at the library a friend of mine just sent me a text and informed me that I won another $125 in the OSU football pool. She said it must be nice to be so lucky as it’s the third time I’ve won already this year.

Being in the football pool is always a fun thing to do because it adds some excitement to what can often be a boring football game. It’s interesting because you start with an empty grid as shown above and participants choose squares without knowing what their numbers are going to be.

Most participants have a particular “technique” or an “art” to picking their squares. While some will only choose squares in a particular area or squares that run along the outer portion of the grid, others will choose three to four squares in a diagonal line.

Once all the squares are filled with names the numbers are picked from 0 to 9 and matched with the corresponding rows and for each square a set of two numbers are revealed. Typically one hopes to get good numbers like 7 and 0, 4 and 0 or 4 and 7, however sometimes you end up with a 5 or a 2 which means you need one of the teams to get a safety or miss an extra point or two.

Even it you get some good numbers its always pure luck if you win. I guess I won with 7 for OSU and 0 for Minnesota at half time. I’m told that OSU was driving for more points right before half-time and Terrell threw an interception to end the drive. Way to go Terrell, I love you man ! I’m on the winning end this time around and someone else is drowning their sorrows while thinking about what might have been.

As my grandfather always used to say “its better to be lucky than good” and how true that statement is !

“86”

Well I have to admit I’m glad I kept my Friday night hosting job at Windward Passage because I always seem to learn something new and last night was no different.

Back in the kitchen we have a board that’s called the “86” board. This board is your typical marker board and it is used when we run out of items, especially our fresh fish or daily specials during the lunch or evening sitting. The kitchen staff writes any and all items up on the board so the wait staff can see it and quickly spread the word to the rest of the wait staff including the hosts. Our kitchen staff at Windward is very creative and they have taken the significance of the board a step further by listing celebrities on the board when they pass on because they are considered “gone” and are “out”.

At the end of the night when we gathered in the bar to enjoy our shift drink I asked the question where did the “86” phrase come from ? Most of the staff working last night were younger and have been in the restuarant business for all of their working lifes so there was a wide variety of answers.

With the internet at my disposal I thought I would do alittle research to see if I could find out where the term came from. Here is an interesting article that mentions most all of the responses I received last night and I also checked out the definition of “86” on Wikipedia. Very interesting !

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes

Every year for the past few years I have baked Christmas cookies for my clients.  Most of my clients have corporate policies that prevent them from accepting any kind of purchased gift, so an attractive box or container of handmade Christmas cookies that can be placed at the office coffee station is a good way to express appreciation for the client’s business while at the same time avoiding any violation of corporate policies.  Plus, I like baking while I listen to Christmas music — but more on that later, as the holidays grow closer.

Every year I try to add a new recipe to the mix.  Do any Webnerhouse readers or fellow WordPress bloggers have any suggestions?

Click here to see a listing of the recipes that have been posted

Buckeye State Bulls-Eye

Unlike Virginia and New Jersey, which are electing governors this November, Ohio doesn’t have off-year elections for statewide offices.  Our election in November will include a few state-wide ballot issues (like Issue 3, the gambling initiative), but most of the ballot will be devoted to local elections for school boards, city council, and township trustee positions.

That won’t keep the national media from targeting Ohio for attention and considering what the 2010 state-wide elections might look like, and here is the first article I have seen along those lines.  There will be a full slate of significant races.  Every state-wide office, from Governor to Auditor, will be up for grabs, as well as the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Senator George Voinovich and every congressional seat.  The politicking for the races is already underway.  Our firm has been visited by candidates, and I regularly get e-mails and mailings from the various candidates looking for contributions.

Still, I think it is very early to say much of anything meaningful about what might happen in Ohio in 2010.  A year is a very long time in politics — just ask Marc Dann — and the election no doubt will be influenced, as every Ohio election seems to be, by the state of the economy, unemployment figures, and scandals that have not yet hit the front pages.  I think most people like Governor Strickland and think he has been a good, moderating influence on Ohio politics, but that perception could change if, say, the state’s unemployment rate continues to climb and the Governor and the General Assembly continue to have to deal with budget shortfalls by considering politically unpopular actions like tax increases.  Any predictions now about what might happen in the Buckeye State in November 2010 would be pure speculation, and almost certain to be wrong.

It Must Have Been An Exceptionally Absorbing Conversation

The story about Northwest Flight 188, the airline flight that went 100 miles past Minneapolis before turning around to land — and that was out of radio contact for an hour as a result — is one of the weirdest stories I’ve heard in a long time.

The pilot and co-pilot say that they were in the midst of a heated conversation about airline policy and “lost situational awareness.” Hard to argue with the latter point! But how in the world could a discussion about policy be so absorbing that the pilots were oblivious to the bells, buzzers, radio calls, and other technological gadgetry that exists solely to warn pilots that they are doing something like flying blithely past their intended landing spot? I’ve had some riveting conversations at work, I suppose, but none that would render me insensate to all notions of time and space.

The pilots’ stated explanation seems so unlikely that speculation is running rampant about what might have happened. Were the pilots asleep? In a fistfight? Engaging in untoward activities with the flight attendants? The subject of a hijack attempt that was called off in a no-harm, no-foul situation? Or, like the balloon boy family, are they simply angling for their own reality show?

Whatever it was, it is one of those things that gives business travelers the heebie-jeebies. Those of us who fly frequently just have to trust that they guy with the wing pin is, in fact, a qualified pilot who knows what he is doing and is paying attention to getting us safely to our destination. When something like this happens, the trust gets undercut. The next time I travel and walk past the cockpit as I board my plane, I’m sure I’ll wonder whether the pilots are planning on having some in-depth discussion during the flight.

Evolution Of Wusses

This article argues that modern males are pathetic – slower, weaker, with less stamina and body mass than our evolutionary forebears.  The evidence of this is a bit skimpy — relying, as it does, on one set of fossilized footprints that indicate that a long-ago aborigine, dubbed “T8,” ran about 40 miles per hour, as well as footage of members of an African tribe jumping their own height — but I have no doubt that humans who lived and hunted in the wild were faster, more accurate in throwing spears and rocks, and more capable of detecting, tracking, and bringing down game that could help to feed the tribe.  Evolutionary principles would suggest as much.  If survival to reproduce required physical stamina and endurance, athleticism, and hunting skills, you would expect natural selection to produce humans who fit that bill.  It has been centuries, and perhaps millenia, since western man has required to live solely on the proceeds of hunting and gathering, and therefore natural selection no longer focuses on such traits. 

Modern culture selects for different traits now.  So I say:  bring those aborigines on for a modern natural selection challenge!  I bet American men would kick some australopethicine butt in the shopping and can-opening events, and good luck finding much big game to feed the tribe in the wilds of New Albany, Ohio!  Let’s see if T8 can hold a job in this economy, compose a decent inter-office memo, or interact with members of the opposite sex without getting slapped with some kind of harassment lawsuit.  I bet the soft-in-the-belly modern male office worker can type faster, structure better computer searches, and speak more knowledgeably about the NFL at the water cooler than any hunter-gatherer.

So I say:  We are not wusses!  We are just naturally selected by overwhelming, irresistible historical and evolutionary forces to be plumper, slower and less studly than T8 and his buddies.  Those evolutionary forces may have made men more pathetic, but you have to admit — at least if the illustration accompanying this entry is even halfway accurate — it has worked wonders for the female of the species.

Buckeye Bebe At The ‘Shoe

Aunt Bebe, me, UJ, and Richard after the Navy game

Aunt Bebe, me, UJ, and Richard after the Navy game

My friend Kristin cleaned out her digital camera this week and sent me this photo that she took at the tailgate after the Navy game.  We had a great time, as photo suggests.  Aunt Bebe’s outfit was so striking that a complete stranger came up and asked if she could have her picture taken with Aunt Bebe.  That is why she is known far and wide as “Buckeye Bebe.”

Let’s Get Small

I am a bit mystified by the White House’s decision to criticize Fox News, describe it as “not really a news organization,” and try to marginalize it. I understand that the Obama Administration does not like the coverage they are getting from Fox News and therefore is trying to impugn Fox’s credibility as a news-gathering organization. I think this kind of tactic just makes the White House and President Obama look small and thin-skinned. A better approach, in my view, would be to just ignore Fox or to refer to them, if at all, only as the butt of jokes.

The reaction of journalists also is a bit discouraging. With a few exceptions, members of the news media don’t seem to have raised many objections to the Administration’s harsh, public criticism of a fellow member of the news media. Whether people agree with the viewpoint expressed by Fox News shows like The O’Reilly Factor or Hannity is irrelevant. A free press is only truly free if everyone is permitted to express their opinions and views, no matter how unpopular or out of step with the majority. When you disagree with a news report, the proper response is to point out the flaws and errors, not to try to suppress the speaker. I would have thought all members of the news media would understand, and publicly express, that fundamental truth. Their failure to do so makes them look craven and politically motivated.

Way Down In the Hole

I like going to the library and picking out a few CDs, just to give them a listen and see if I can find anything new that I like.  Recently I picked up Spirit of the Century by The Blind Boys of Alabama, and it is just wonderful.  Lots of great songs, including this rendition of Way Down in the Hole by Tom Waits, which will be familiar to everyone who watches The Wire:

No Surprise To Parents Of College Students

The College Board reports that, once again, tuition and fee costs at both public and private colleges have increased at a rate faster than inflation.  For private four-year colleges in the United States, costs for the 2009-2010 year increased by an average 4.4 percent.  Average costs for public universities increased by an even larger amount — 6.5 percent.

There seems to be endless elasticity of demand for degrees from elite American colleges.  There undoubtedly are people who would gladly pay $100,000 a year for the privilege of seeing Junior get his sheepskin from Harvard or Yale.  As a result, there is no effective incentive for such schools to really try to control costs.  Why make cuts that will anger faculty and staff when tuition increases can be implemented without meaningful opposition?  Hiking tuition is simply the path of least resistance.

Interestingly, although politicians often talk about how important it is to try to make college affordable, they always do so in the context of government-backed loans to pay the tuitions and related costs set by the educational institutions.  In contrast, they never criticize college administrators for failing to control costs.  Colleges and universities have worked out a pretty sweet deal — they get lots of research funding and grant money from federal and state governments, and those governments then guarantee loans, at favorable interest rates, to help students pay the constantly increasing price tab for tuition and room and board.

Kish and I are now in our fifth year of paying college tuition costs, and the annual tuition increase notices come with the same certain regularity as the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano.  In reality, the ever-increasing cost of a higher education will not be reined in until the law of supply and demand once again comes to apply to the process of getting a college diploma, and that day still appears to be a long way off.

More No On Issue 3

I’m happy to see that some Columbus community development organizations have come out against Issue 3.  Although organizations in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo have endorsed the proposal, Columbus groups have criticized Issue 3 — correctly, I think — as an obvious effort to line the pockets of special interests and to preclude state or local regulation of casinos by establishing them through a constitutional amendment.  I hope Columbus voters are paying attention.

COLA Zero (Cont.)

I’ve previously criticized President Obama for proposed a $250 payment to Social Security recipients, and others, who will not be increasing a cost of living increase in their benefits this year due to the lack of measured inflation.  I’m disappointed, but frankly not surprised, to see that Republicans also appear to be going along with the proposal. They just want to pay for it from existing “stimulus” funds, rather than new borrowing.  In the interests of even-handedness, then, I make this post to criticize congressional Republicans, as well as President Obama and congressional Democrats, for their profligate ways.  Republican leaders may talk tough about fiscal responsibility and reining in spending, but when the time comes to stand up for that principle, in a way that might cost them some political capital, they are no more resolute than the most big-spending liberal — but are a heck of a lot more hypocritical.

American taxpayers should despair about the irresponsible individuals running our national government.  The bailout bills and stimulus bill were like the crack cocaine of spending legislation:  once members of Congress and the Administration saw how easy it was to enact massive, rushed, poorly vetted spending bills, their solution to every economic problem, and every political problem, is to enact legislation that shovels money that the federal government doesn’t have to individuals and entities who don’t really need it.  With all due respect to senior citizens, they are, as a group, no more in need as a result of this recession than any other demographic group.  There is simply no reason to spend $14 billion to give them an additional $250 — other than to curry political favor with a group that votes.

Yard Signs In The Neighborhood

They say all politics is local, and the current condition of our neighborhood reflects that reality.  Brightly colored political yard signs dot the landscape, and fliers are frequently found on our doorstep.  In this off-year election in New Albany, Ohio, we will be choosing among candidates for school board, village council, and trustee, as well as voting on statewide issues.

The issues in these local elections are basic and gut-level.  Do we like the performance of our schools or think that we need to change course?  Are our taxes too high?  Are we happy with our neighborhoods and local development plans?  The population which decides this issue is limited, and if you can convince enough of your neighbors to vote as you want you can effect real changes in policy.  The election handouts reflect the intensity of the candidates’ positions, with lots of boldfaced statements and exclamation points.  And, as you learn something about the candidates, you also learn something about your neighbors who display their yard signs.

Non-Journalism

Today still more members of the news media — in this case, Reuters and CNBC — fell for a hoax.  On the basis of a dubious press release, they reported that the Chamber of Commerce had changed its position on climate change legislation.  CNBC read the fake press release on the air, and Reuters reported it, in an article that was then picked up by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

I was struck by the explanation of the Reuters spokesman quoted in the linked article.  The spokesman is quoted as saying:  “Reuters has an obligation to its clients to publish news and information that could move financial markets, and this story had the potential to do that.”  My old professor at the Ohio State University School of Journalism, Marty Brian, must be rolling in her grave at that one!  Consider that the quote from the Reuters spokesman equates an admitted hoax with “news and information” and suggests that Reuters’ paramount obligation is to publish whatever comes its way, without doing anything to determine its veracity first.  That concept is antithetical to true professional journalism, which values accuracy above speed and insists upon sourcing and careful fact-checking — particularly of a story that reports that a vocal opponent of legislation has abruptly and inexplicably changed its position.  Doesn’t anyone at CNBC and Reuters have a reporter’s gut instinct, or at least a willingness to take a moment to check the Chamber of Commerce website to see if the press release even is posted there?

Normally I would decry the efforts of the hoaxers, but I have come to believe that they probably are performing a salutary function for the world at large.  Why attach credibility to what you read from the news media if they don’t even bother to check press releases before publishing them?