A Visit To The NACC Fire Pit

The New Albany Country Club fire pit

New Albany Country Club has it all.  27-hold golf course?  Check.  Fine dining and party room facilities?  Check.  Countless tennis courts?  Absolutely.  Workout facility, family pool, and adult pool?  Of course!  Its own beer and pale ale?  Sure, why not?  Fire pit?  Yes, indeed.

Wait a second — fire pit?


The lanterns light the way

It’s the newest addition to the country club offering of recreational activities, and Penny and I decided to make a visit on our walk today.

The fire pit is in the middle of a copse of trees between the ninth hole on the north course and the main clubhouse grounds.  You follow a winding path covered with wood chips to the center of the stand of trees.  The path is strung with electric lanterns.  At the end of the path is the fire pit, which is ringed with stones and then with picnic tables, benches and two very rustic (and frankly, uncomfortable looking) seats beveled out of tree trunks.  The area features a grill, an iron spit where you could roast a wild boar carcass or some other animal caught by a guy exploring his savage side, and some strategically placed fire extinguishers.


One of the all-natural seats at the fire pit

I don’t know whether the fire pit has been heavily used so far.  It’s probably not a top choice for a wedding reception or book club get-together, but it would be perfect for a Boy Scout troop meeting, a drum circle, a Lord of the Flies meeting, or one of those “get in touch with your inner alpha male” retreats.  Toss a few logs in the pit, slowly roast a haunch of beef, knock back a New Albany Pale Ale or two, and then walk a few hundred feet back to the New Albany Country Club grounds, where your wife is waiting to pick you up in the Cadillac Escalade.

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Let The Big Ten Begin

The Ohio State Buckeyes did what they had to do yesterday.  On a beautiful fall day, they pounded the Eastern Michigan University Eagles, 73-20, to complete an undefeated September.  Now the Big Ten season begins, and the Buckeyes will be required to leave the friendly confines of Ohio Stadium.  The first test will come next Saturday, when Ohio State will play at Illinois.

A few random thoughts from the EMU game:

Obviously, the Buckeyes played well offensively.  You know your team has had a good day when it racks up 73 points, 30 first downs, and more than 600 yards in total offense.  Eastern Michigan looked totally overmatched, physically, against the Ohio State offense, but players still have to execute.  Quarterbacks have to throw the ball with accuracy, receivers have to catch, and so forth.  Even against an outgunned opponent like EMU, putting 73 points on the board is a notable accomplishment.  Regardless of the quality of the opponent, Terrelle Pryor will always remember this game, where he threw for four touchdowns, ran for another, and caught a pass for yet another.  Dane Sanzenbacher, who caught four touchdown passes, isn’t going to squawk that they all came against the EMU Eagles, either.

I like the Buckeyes’ use of a hurry-up offense.  I think Ohio State has lots of offensive weapons, and playing at a quick tempo when you have the other team on their heels is just good strategy.  It also makes it easier to run trick plays, like the Jordan Hall pass to Terrelle Pryor.  Finally, it causes the offense to play with special aggressiveness and is good preparation for games where the Buckeyes will need to run the two-minute drill.

My only concern about the offense was the lack, again, of a consistent ground game by the OSU running backs.  Although the Buckeyes had more than 340 yards rushing, they still struggled to get consistent push against EMU when the first team was on the field, and much of the yardage that was gained was on Terrelle Pryor scrambles.  As the weather gets colder, Ohio State will want Boom Herron, Brandon Saine, Jordan Hall, and Jaamal Berry to shoulder more of the load and show that they can get the tough yards when the game is on the line.

Defensively, Ohio State stopped the run and was able to get consistent pressure on the passer.  However, EMU exposed some weaknesses in the OSU secondary, where a number of players are banged up.  The Eagles’ quarterback, Alex Gillett, played a fine game and made some unbelievably good throws under pressure.  He also gashed the middle of the Buckeye defense with big throws to the tight end.  I’m glad some of these issues were exposed in this contest, when the outcome was not in doubt, rather than later in the season during the closing minutes of a big game.  My guess is that the Ohio State coaches will work on the linebacker drops and hope that the dinged-up members of the secondary get healthy.

Finally, there were no special teams mishaps and no significant injuries.  The latter point may be the most important point of all.

Finding EMU

Ohio State plays the Eastern Michigan University Eagles today.  The Eagles play in the MAC, and they aren’t very good.  In fact, they’ve lost 15 games in a row.  As a result, Ohio State is a prohibitive favorite to prevail in the match-up.

Today’s contest will be one of those games where Ohio State really can’t win.  You’re expected to pulverize your opponent.  If you don’t, questions get asked.  If you do, pundits criticize you for playing a patsy and give you no credit for the victory.  So, about the best you can hope for is that you notch a win, escape without an injury, and get some game experience for your back-ups.

Although the EMU team name is the Eagles, I can’t help but associate them with another species of bird — the emu, a large, earthbound bird that is native to Australia.  Let’s hope the Buckeyes keep EMU from taking flight today and can put another one in the win column without ruffling too many feathers.

Lessons From The Blockbuster Bankruptcy

On Thursday, Blockbuster Inc. filed for bankruptcy.  The retail video rental chain, which employs about 25,000 people, is close to $1 billion in debt and is getting hammered by Netflix and other companies that offer different approaches to delivery of movies and entertainment options to consumers.

I haven’t been to a Blockbuster store in years, but I pass one on my commute to work every day, and there has been a noticeable decline in traffic at that store.  Consumers obviously prefer the mail order/on-line alternatives to driving to the nearest Blockbuster store, rummaging through the shelves in hopes of finding a worthwhile video to watch that night, and then paying late fees when they forget to return the movie in timely fashion.

The lesson of the Blockbuster bankruptcy is that the tastes and practices of American consumers are ever-changing and often influenced by new technology — which is why so many people are skeptical when the federal government tries to pick winners and losers, subsidizes particular industries or lines of business, or otherwise attempts to influence consumer choices or the direction of the American economy.  Blockbuster was once a mighty company, with busy stores in every shopping mall.  People who looked at the company in its heyday probably thought that, of course, Blockbuster would be profitable indefinitely.   When something better came along, however, Americans left the Blockbuster model behind without a second thought.

At least no one is suggesting that we should bail Blockbuster out.

Not Funny

Today Stephen Colbert testified, in character, before a congressional subcommittee on immigration.  He said things like “I don’t want a tomato picked by a Mexican” and the answer to needing illegal immigrants to pick our fruits and vegetables is to stop eating fruits and vegetables.

I’m sure Colbert thought it was a great opportunity to enhance his “brand.”  He got to take his act to Capitol Hill and get some free publicity “testifying” before an honest-to-God congressional panel.  I’m sure the Democratic Representative who is the chair of the subcommittee, Zoe Lofgren, thought it was a great way to get her subcommittee some air time.  Others, however, didn’t think it was very funny.

I fall into the latter camp.  What is the point of having a comedian testify, in character, about a serious issue like immigration?  I think it just makes Congress and congressional processes seem like even more of a joke, and it certainly suggests that Congress thinks that immigration isn’t worth much serious attention.  In an era when public respect for Congress is scraping the bottom of the barrel, why would Representative Lofgren think such a stunt was a good idea?

Taxpayer-Subsidized Political Contributions

General Motors recently filed documents with the Federal Election Commission disclosing that GM contributed some $90,000 to political candidates.  The GM spokesman quoted in the linked article seemed irked that anyone would think there was a problem with this, saying that GM isn’t going to “sit on the sidelines” while other companies shovel cash at political candidates in an attempt to influence policy.  So, GM will make contributions to candidates who support “a strong auto industry.”

The problem, of course, is that the federal government (that is, U.S. taxpayers) own 61 percent of GM and are subsidizing its operations.  While that is the case, GM shouldn’t spend one penny toward political contributions of any kind.  Any money GM earns should be devoted to paying off its debt to taxpayers and making the company more attractive to investors when GM tries to make a public offering in the near future.

It also is problematic that GM is, in effect, using taxpayer money to pick and choose candidates to support, with the inevitable acid test being whether they support “a strong auto industry” — meaning, of course, candidates who supported the GM bailout and continue to think we should do whatever is necessary to prop up the sagging, poorly managed, uncompetitive domestic auto industry.  In short, even though public opinion polls show that Americans now strongly oppose the bailout culture, our tax dollars are perversely being spent by GM to encourage the continuation of that culture.  It’s just another reason to make a change in how things are being done in Washington, D.C., and in Detroit.

How To Deal With A Nutjob

I’ve often been critical of the Obama Administration in the postings on this blog, but here is an action that I can wholeheartedly support:  today’s decision by the United States to walk out on the delusional ravings — some might call it a speech — by Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  The U.S. delegation exited after Ahmadinejad talked about how some have theorized that the 9/11 attacks on the United States were in reality part of a United States conspiracy to protect Israel.

There is no point in sitting politely and diplomatically through the rantings of a paranoid madman and thereby giving them credence, so I applaud the walkout of the United States and many other countries.  Because our nation is the host country for the United Nations we have to allow Ahmadinejad and other foreign leaders on our soil, but that doesn’t mean we have to listen to his lunatic diatribes.

People who believe that peace can be achieved by reasoning with other countries should read Ahmadinejad’s remarks and reflect carefully and soberly on the fact that Iran is on the verge of being a nuclear nation.