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.

Marsbound

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.