The “Occupy” Movement Celebrates A Birthday

For those of you who somehow forgot, today’s a special day:  the first birthday of the “Occupy movement.”

The Occupiers celebrated the big day by staging some protests in lower Manhattan.  About a thousand protesters gathered and tried to block access to the New York Stock Exchange and various office buildings, and about 150 were arrested for disturbing the peace.  The stock market and other capitalistic activities went on undeterred, but one Occupier was enthusiastic about the turnout.  “It is encouraging getting 1,000 people out to do anything,’’ he said.

It’s hard to believe that the “Occupy movement” started only a year ago.  For a time the media and some politicians acted like the “Occupy movement” was going to be the next big wave, and there was a seeming obsession with breathless reporting about how the Zuccotti Park protestors engaged in self-government, used the “human megaphone,” and had drummers pounding away day and night.  It seems like ancient history now, doesn’t it?  What was supposed to be the next big thing now can only command a thousand protestors to commemorate a big day for the “movement” — and you’d be hard pressed to identify anything that was truly accomplished as a result of the urban encampments and drumming.

There may still be “Occupy” activities going on somewhere in Columbus, but if so I haven’t seen or heard of them.  On its first birthday, it seems like there’s not much movement in that “movement.”

This Election, Ohio Truly Is The Heart Of It All

Ohio used to call itself “the heart of it all,” because of the state’s purported heart-like shape and central location.  This presidential election, Ohio truly seems to be the heart of it all.

You can’t walk around downtown Columbus without hearing about a political event.  This afternoon, Florida Senator Marco Rubio gave a speech at the Ohio Statehouse for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.  President Obama showed up a bit later for his own event in German Village.  I was working at my desk when I heard the distinctive sound of a presidential motorcade rolling past, with sirens blaring and deep klaxon-like horns barking. The President stopped at the hotel a block from my office, where the street was blocked off by police cars and motorcycles and those huge black Secret Service SUVs.

Hey, Mr. President!  Could you keep it down the next time you come to town?  I’m trying to wrap up a conference call here!

Some polls have indicated that the President has a growing lead in Ohio.  If that is true — and I’m a bit skeptical of polls — I’m not seeing it.  More importantly, the campaigns certainly aren’t acting that way.  I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of President Obama and Mitt Romney, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, and their high-profile surrogates, here in the heart of it all.  From all appearances, President Obama and Mitt Romney are going to be fighting tooth and nail up until Election Day to try to win the Buckeye State.

Eyesight Fail

I’ve worn glasses for as long as I can remember.  I think I got my first pair when I was in first grade, and I’ve worn them ever since.

For years, my eyesight declined gradually, but inexorably.  When I was a kid our optometrist gave me a rubbery softball with letters on it; I was supposed to attach it to a string, hang it from the ceiling, and let it sway around as I tried to identify the letters moving past.  This was supposed to strengthen my eye muscles, or something.  It was incredibly boring to do, so I went outside and played with my friends instead and the ball went into a drawer to gather dust.

When I hit 40, my vision decline seemed to stop.  It didn’t get better, but it didn’t get any worse.  Every few years my glasses would get too scratched to see through clearly, and I’d go to a storefront optical shop for a check-up and a new pair.  My prescription stayed pretty much the same, and the main challenge was picking out a new pair of glasses.  As any eyeglasses wearer knows, optical stores are filled with photos of rugged looking guys and high-fashion women wearing dark, dramatic frames that would look ridiculous on most chubby American faces — including mine.  After a split-second of indecision, I’d just get a new pair that looked like my old pair.

Once I turned 55 earlier this year, however, my eyesight seemed to hit the wall.  With my glasses on, I simply could not focus on the words on a printed page.  When your job involves lots of reading, this can be a problem.  It got to the point where it was easier to remove my glasses and bring the text embarrassingly close to my face.  When I went to the optometrist, he confirmed that my ability to focus on nearby items has deteriorated significantly.  He says constant use of a computer terminal may be to blame, but it’s probably just the effect of age.  Ugh.

I’ve got my new prescription and new glasses, and I can read again — for now.  My most recent pair of glasses now join the pile of old glasses in my desk drawer.

If only I’d used that softball!