(Not) Thinking About Sex

Here’s something else that makes me proud of my alma mater — researchers at The Ohio State University have studied how often male and female college students think about sex.  Thank God that our scarce scientific resources have finally been directed at that crucial, too-often-ignored topic!

In any case, the study debunks the canard that men think about sex every seven seconds, which would mean that men think about sex 8,000 times in a 16-hour day.  Instead, the study found that the male subjects reported thinking about sex between 1 and 388 times each day, and the female subjects admitted to thinking about sex between 1 and 140 times per day.

On average, the men thought about sex 19 times a day, and the women thought about sex 10 times a day.  By way of comparison, men thought about food an average of 18 times a day and sleeping an average of 11 times a day, and women thought about food an average of 15 times a day and sleeping 8.5 times a day.

So, according to the study, men aren’t thinking about sex every waking second, and women aren’t either.  In fact, sex, food, and sleep account for only 48 of the thousands of the daily thoughts that college men presumably have.  But that just begs the question:  what in the world were these male college students thinking about the rest of the time?  Here’s my guess on some of the likely results:  (1) sports (200 thoughts per day); (2) beer (200 “thoughts” per day); (3) “This class sucks” (50 thoughts per day); (4) “Whoa, this room is trashed!” (40 times per day); (5) “When you think about it, Captain Picard was actually a better starship captain than Captain Kirk” (25 times a day).

Bedeviled Blue Devils

I watched the much anticipated Blue Devils vs. Buckeyes basketball game last night. Who would have thought that afterwards we could say that coach K’s guys were soundly beaten? The old word “drubbed” comes to mind. No one beats Duke by 20 points. But Ohio State did.

I remember when I was in high school and college in Ohio (not at OSU) and Lucas and Havlicek (and Bobby Knight off the bench) made Ohio State the premiere basketball team in the country. Its fun to see State back on the top again and, I’m sure, a good balm for the alumni who suffered with their football team this year. (Though it surely looks like the Bucks have a future great QB in Miller which along with Coach Meyer holds great promise for the next few years if the NCAA doesn’t do something crazy. Speaking of which – where are those NCAA guys relative to Penn State and the failure of its coaches to act on truly criminal matters that make Tressel’s failure to report the sales of his players personal property for tattoos seem like little more than jaywalking?) But I digress.

Last night’s game, though, was a startlingly reminder of how much the game has changed since Lucas and this Webner were in high school and college (we went to different schools together). Of course, as Dick Vitale would say, the kids today have more “athleticism”. They are taller, stronger, jump higher and run faster. (The center on our high school team was 6’ 2”.) But it wasn’t the athleticism that was startling. The change that startled me was in the stands. The fan factor, if you will.

When we (Jerry Lucas and I) were in high school, cheerleaders made everyone be quiet when the other team was shooting foul shots. It was considered un-sportsman-like to make a noise that might break the shooter’s concentration. True. Not a peep was heard. Referees might even give a team an extra shot if the fan distraction was too great (un-sportsman like.) In college it was the same. All of the yelling and screaming was for our team and not against the opposing team. Last night, in stark contrast, the fans behind the goals screamed, yelled, were generally obnoxious AND waved pictures of Elvis, Tweety Bird, Yosemite Sam and assorted other characters to try to distract Duke at the foul line. Come on!

Now I recognize that this is just the progression of things. At some point, I’m not sure when, (the beginning of the Viet Nam war?) fans began to make noise to distract the players and then to yell and wave their arms; then to yell, wave their arms and jump up and down; then to yell, wave their arms, jump up and down and wave signs; then to yell, wave their arms, jump up and down, wave signs and wave those “noodle” things. But, at least for me, last night was a new phase when they added the waving of placards displaying cartoon characters, Elvis Presley’s picture and the like (including those – what were they – “We’re Nuts” signs?) to distract the shooter. In my view, these fan distractions only distract from the game. Does a missed foul shot at the end of a close game as a result of fan distraction prove the fan’s team is the better team?

I wonder why it is allowed to continue. For the Buckeyes, at least, it doesn’t look like they need that kind of fan assistance.

“Toilet Gaming” And The March Of Human Progress

Just when you think we’ve reached the nadir in the arc of human social development, you read a story about “toilet gaming” — and you realize there are entirely new depths waiting to be plumbed by modern homo sapiens.

You read it right:  “toilet gaming.”  Or, to be precise, urinal gaming.  Apparently modern men simply can’t abide the 50 seconds or so of down time that usually accompanies the basic human function of bladder evacuation.  It’s just so damn tedious, standing there on the sticky floor of a public restroom, staring at the wall a few inches ahead while you answer nature’s call!  So, some enterprising British business has developed devices that allow the bored urinal user to play a video game that uses urine flow as a kind of hands-free joystick.  A good aim at inner urinal sensors that hits various targets allows you to get a top score in a skiing game or to correctly answer trivia questions, and your score shows up on a video screen directly ahead.  The developers think they’ll be able to sell advertising — presumably, for beer — on part of the video screen.

Have we really reached the point where men can’t even relieve themselves without playing a video game?  Can’t public restrooms just be devoted exclusively to their intended purpose?  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the guy using the next urinal over to be focused on directing the stream in order to score well on a video game rather than paying careful attention to successful and prompt completion of the task at hand.

The Hat Season

This is a crappy time of year for the glasses-wearing population of Columbus.  It’s been raining for days, and it’s like the scene in Forrest Gump where Forrest talks about the rain in Vietnam — sometimes big fat rain, sometimes sharp stinging rain, sometimes drizzle that seems to blow on the breeze.  Inevitably the spectacles end up coated with moisture, leaving the now-blinded, hapless glasses-wearing wretch stumbling through the mist.

Umbrellas aren’t a great answer, either.  For one thing, they’re cumbersome and a pain to use in the wind.  And if you’re lugging a satchel and notebook, you’ve got no hand free to hold an umbrella, anyway.

So, I’ve decided to wear a hat and trench coat on foul weather days.  I’ve had a Country Gentlemen Lite Felt hat for several years, but I haven’t worn it much.  This year, I’m going to change that.  I’ve worn the Country Gent the past few rainy days, and it’s perfect.  It’s warm, water repellent, and has an exceptionally wide drop down brim that keeps the raindrops off the lenses.  So what if I look like a bit player in a ’40s crime movie?  It’s worth it to be able to see on Columbus’ drizzly winter days.

Elvis Costello: His (Anti-Gouging) Aim Is True

I’ve liked Elvis Costello since he came out with the timeless My Aim Is True album when I was in college.  I like him even more after reading an article today about Elvis telling the world that his latest offering has been ridiculously overpriced by his record company.

It’s hard to argue that with conclusion.  It’s a 3 CD, concert DVD, vinyl record, coffee table book “boxed set” called Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook that carries an absurd $225 price tag.  Costello tried to get the record company to reduce the inflated price.  When it wouldn’t, he wrote on his website that he couldn’t recommend the boxed set to anyone because the price was either “a misprint or a satire,” and he recommended a collection from Louis Armstrong instead.

Good for Elvis Costello!  He’s showed that he’s not just in it for the cash and that he’s willing to call his record label when their price gouging gets to the point of ludicrousness.  If only more artists were willing to stand up to the money-at-all-costs views of their publishers and record companies!

Coach K Comes To Columbus

Tonight at 9:30 p.m. the Ohio State men’s basketball team will take on the Duke Blue Devils at Value City Arena.  It’s a match-up that will pit no. 2 against no. 3 and the winningest coach of all time, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, against a strong up-and-comer in the Buckeyes’ Thad Matta.

The game is part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the annual event that until recently hasn’t been much of a challenge for the ACC.  The ACC won the first ten Challenges, but the Big Ten eked out the last two and hopes to make it three in a row.   As always, there are many intriguing games, including Wisconsin at North Carolina, Miami at Purdue, and Indiana at N.C. State.

The most anticipated contest, in Columbus at least, is Duke at Ohio State.  Despite the constant rain over the past few days, OSU students have camped out so they can get into Value City Arena early and start raising a ruckus.  Duke has beaten several ranked teams already, won the Maui Invitational, and has five scorers averaging in double figures — guards Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, and Austin Rivers and forwards Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly.  The Blue Devils have the size — and three towering Plumlees — to bang down low with Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, and William Buford, Aaron Craft, and the OSU back court will have their hands full with the Duke guards.  Ohio State will have to play tough defense to stop the high-scoring Duke attack and will need to be aggressive in rebounding and keeping Duke from getting second shots.

Year-in and year-out, Duke is the premier program in America, and they are used as a kind of measuring rod for other programs.  This year is no different.   We’ll have a better sense of how Ohio State sizes up after tonight’s game.

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2011 (II)

I like cookies with nuts, and also cookies made with cream cheese.  If you combine the two, so much the better!

Merry  Cheesecakes

Ingredients:  1 cup flour; 1/3 cup softened butter; 1/2 cup packed brown sugar; 1/2 cup chopped nuts; 8 ounces softened cream cheese; 1/4 cup granulated sugar; 1 egg; 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; 2 tablespoons milk; 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

Baking:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Blend flour, butter, and brown sugar with a mixer on low speed.  Stir in nuts.  Set aside 1 cup of mixture for topping.  Put remaining mixture into an 8-inch square pan.  Bake about 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. 

Beat cream cheese with granulated sugar.  Add egg, vanilla, milk, and lemon juice.  Spread cream cheese mixture over crust.  Sprinkle with reserved nut mixture.  Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool then refrigerate, then cut into bars.

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2011

Urbanization For Buckeye Nation

Normally Columbus is a grim place when Ohio State has lost to Michigan.  If you walked around Columbus right now, however, you’d see a lot of upbeat people — and it’s all because Ohio State has hired Urban Meyer as its head football coach.

It’s not just because Coach Meyer has been an extremely successful coach, although that is certainly part of it.  He’s won everywhere he’s been, from Bowling Green to Utah to Florida.  He knows how to build a program and how to recruit and then coach talented athletes.  But for Ohio State fans, it is more than that.  We want someone who understands what Ohio State means.  We want someone who grew up in Ohio, who lived and died with the Buckeyes, who got their first coaching job at Ohio State.  Urban Meyer has all of those qualities.

This may be hard for people outside of Ohio to understand; they probably think of Buckeye Nation as a bunch of win-at-all-cost hayseeds.  But for many Ohioans, myself included, the reality could not be more different.  We want to win, for sure, but we want to win the right way.  We want to feel proud of our team, because we are and will forever be proud of the state it represents.  We want a coach who recognizes and appreciate the almost mystical aspects of Ohio State football and its deep resonance with generations of Ohioans and Ohio State graduates.

We’ll see how Coach Meyer performs as Ohio State’s coach; you never know how things will go.  But I was encouraged by what he said at his news conference this afternoon, about wanting to make the state proud of its flagship university and its football team.  And, more importantly, I was encouraged because Coach Meyer’s very decision to come back to Ohio State, when he could have had any job in the country, shows he feels the importance of Ohio State football in his gut, just like everyone else in Buckeye Nation does.  This won’t be a job for him, it will be a passion and a crusade.  He won’t rest until Ohio State football is as good as he can possibly make it.

And that’s why — even after a miserable and discouraging season — the people of a Columbus are smiling tonight.

A Story With No Good Answers

In Cleveland Heights, county workers have put an eight-year-old boy who weighs more than 200 pounds into foster care after concluding that the boy’s mother isn’t doing enough to control his weight.  The boy isn’t suffering from any medical conditions other than sleep apnea, but he is considered at risk of weight-related diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.  It’s the first time anyone in Ohio can recall a child being taken from his home purely because of a weight issue.

Childhood obesity is a problem in America — but when should the state intervene to deal with individual cases?  County workers say the boy’s weight is due to his environment and his mother’s failure to follow doctor’s orders; they consider the boy’s condition to be just another form of medical neglect.  The mother, and her lawyer, say the county overreached because the boy is in no immediate danger and the mother has been trying to control his weight.  They note that the boy is on the honor roll and participates in school activities, and add that removing a child from his home and family and putting him foster care can cause its own harms.

This case is an example of what can happen when less-than-perfect parenting and an activist government intersect.  I’m not in favor of officious government workers deciding what’s best for us, but I also question how an attentive parent could let a weight issue become so extreme.  If you conclude that the county acted correctly in this instance, where do you draw the line?  Could it have acted even sooner — when, say, the boy first tipped the scales at 175 pounds?  And if you think the county acted improperly, is there any point at which it should intervene short of the child developing medical problems that clearly are weight-related?

While we wrestle with these abstract issues of individual responsibility and government intrusion, however, I think of the kid at the center of this story.  It’s hard to envision an eight-year-old boy who weighs more than 200 pounds, and it’s even harder to imagine that boy having any kind of normal childhood — particularly now that he’s become the focal point of a much larger tug of war.

The Descendants

The Descendants is an interesting movie about choices, and families.

The film stars George Clooney in what is likely an Oscar nomination role.  He plays a wealthy Hawaiian lawyer who has a lot on his plate.  His wife is in a coma after being injured in a boating accident.  He manages a soon-to-be-dissolved trust for his extended family and needs to decide whether to sell land that has been in his family for generations.  His two daughters are acting out, then he learns that his wife will not survive the coma, and then he learns from the oldest daughter that his wife was having an affair.  The arc of the movie addresses Clooney’s struggles to deal with his confused feelings about the affair, his wife, her approaching death, his daughters, and his native Hawaii.

I thought The Descendants was highly entertaining, thought-provoking movie.  Clooney turns in a fine performance, and Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller, who play his two daughters, are excellent.  The three of them had great chemistry as  a family.  I also very much liked the deliberate pace of the movie and its refusal to be pigeon-holed into the categories that so often define the standard Hollywood fare.  Often funny, at times deeply moving, and always riveting, The Descendants was an unpredictable treat.

The Streak is Over

Well the Ohio State Buckeyes seven game winning streak is over against Michigan not to mention eight straight OSU – Michigan wins for me when watching THE GAME with good friends John and Sharon. Even though we couldn’t bring home a winner we had fun trying.

Thanks to Keith and Kim’s suggestion we decided to watch the game at The Lost Shepherd in Powell, Ohio which bills itself as Powell’s Casual Neighborhood Tavern. The thing that made the tavern extra special was the fact that Happy Hour started at noon on Saturday so even though the Buckeyes lost we were all very happy when we left.

The menu had numerous appetizer choices so we all shared crab dip, sweet and hot fries, portobello pizza, southern fried chicken fritters, nachos blanco, wings and hummus. Overall I thought the food was pretty good. The Lost Shepherd also had quite an extensive beer selection which many tried. When the game was over we headed off to play Keno and shoot pool.

Great friends having a lot of fun and laughs together, that’s really what it’s all about. P.S. Keith Woo Hoo back at you brother !

Migration Nation

It’s late fall, and in New Albany that means dealing with the annual migration of the reviled Canadian geese.

We’ve had gaggles of geese moving through New Albany for weeks now.  You hear them before you see them.  The brassy honking draws your attention, and then you see the familiar V-shaped flying wedge in the sky.  The geese follow the leader to the pond on number 5 North, where they inevitably tussle with the swan.  Geese and swans don’t get along, and when the geese land they stick to grassy areas and enter the pond only when the swan is at the opposite end.

Does any other creature have such a huge chasm between appearance and actuality?  Canadian geese are noble looking, with their black necks and white-slashed heads — but in person they are loud, annoying poop machines who leave the ground coated with disgusting droppings.  It’s always a relief when the last gang heads south for the winter.


We Earthlings have always been curious about our neighbor, Mars.  It’s appropriate, therefore, that the latest robot sent to explore the Red Planet is called Curiosity.

Curiosity, which blasted off from Cape Canaveral yesterday, is the largest, best-equipped robot ever to be sent to another planet.  Its mission will feature a number of significant advances in space exploration technology, including new systems that will allow the Curiosity to parachute to the Martian surface and land with great precision.  And the robot rover itself is exceptionally cool.  It is huge by rover standards, and it basically is a geological laboratory on wheels that will be able to photograph, laser, sift and test the Martian surface.  It also has a fully functioning weather station that will record temperature, wind, and humidity.  (Watch for apps that will let you get the daily Martian forecast!)

It will take Curiosity months to get to Mars.  After it lands, it will spend two full years rolling around the Martian surface, attempting to answer questions about whether Mars has been, or is now, capable of sustaining basic life forms.

As an American, I’m always proud of our NASA space exploration missions and the ground-breaking (literally, in the case of Curiosity) technological advances that they feature.  It’s nice to know that our engineering and space exploration systems work, even if our political systems don’t.

The Lost Season

It was a tough loss to Michigan today — but then, it’s been a tough season all around.  Give credit to Michigan and Denard Robinson, who played lights out.

Being a Midwesterner, I was raised with the notion that if you’ve done something wrong you deserve to be punished.  Ohio State players broke the rules, and the Buckeyes have been punished.  They’ve lost a legendary coach, suffered through their worst season in years, lost to Michigan for the first time since 2003, and now have to decide whether they want to go to some embarrassingly mediocre bowl game.  The fact that they came close to beating the Wolverines today, only to fall short as they have done so often this season, is just another taste of the whip.

The Buckeyes will be hiring a new head coach.  Everyone here is talking about Urban Meyer; we’ll have to see whether that in fact happens.  For now, I want to thank Luke Fickell for taking the reins under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, and doing his best to hold things together.  I hope he finds a good job somewhere — perhaps on the staff of the new coach.  I also hope that all Ohio State’s players stick with the program and commit themselves to restoring Buckeye football to its past glory.  With Braxton Miller under center, we’ll be hoping for a quick turnaround.

Now, let’s forget that the lost season of 2011 ever happened.

Liking Lenzelle

There’s lots to like about this year’s version of the Ohio State men’s basketball team.  They’ve got the dominant inside player in Jared Sullinger, the scrappy point guard in Aaron Craft, the steady senior scorer in William Buford, and the instant offense in Deshaun Thomas.  They’ve got some talent on the bench, too.  But for me the big revelation so far this season is Lenzelle Smith Jr.

Smith is a 6-4 guard, and he plays the game the way it should be played.  He sweats and scrambles when he’s guarding an opposing player and looks like he eventually could be as versatile on the defensive end as David Lighty — who could guard just about anybody.  Smith has a solid offensive game; he’s patient, unselfish, and doesn’t force shots.  But where Smith really shines is in transition.  I love watching #32 rip down a rebound and rush pell mell down the court, head up and looking to dish.  He’s made some terrific passes, including some alley-oop lobs leading to  rim-rattling, crowd-pleasing dunks.

Lenzelle Smith Jr. is the kind of player you need on your team if you hope to contend for championships.  The Buckeyes play a tough schedule this year — Duke comes to town next week, for example — and they’ll need every defensive stop and transition bucket #32 can give them.