Ice Balls On The Shoreline

Who says it’s dreary up on the shores of Lake Michigan?

It’s not uncommon, apparently, for the lake to create large ice balls during the winter.  The ice forms along the shore of the freshwater lake, breaks off, and tumbles back and forth in the waves, growing in size as it does so.  The churning action also knocks off the rough edges of the ice and leaves it looking uncannily like a white, smooth, round beach ball.  It’s a pretty amazing sight — like white mothballs or marbles along the lakefront, or the round ice cubes you sometimes see at fancy cocktail parties.

In Ohio, we typically don’t have much use for Michigan.  But even the most ardent Buckeye must admit that the ice balls of Lake Michigan are pretty cool.

The Never-Old Arnold

It’s time for the Arnold Classic here in Columbus, Ohio. It’s celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and it’s better than ever.

“The Arnold” is one of Columbus’ favorite events.  It brings a huge number of people to town, fills the hotels and the gyms and the workout facilities to capacity, and helps to fill our tax coffers, too.  It also gives us our annual glimpse into the fascinating world of bodybuilding, extreme fitness, and other unusual sports and activities and the dedicated people who compete in the various competitions.

You know it’s about time for the Arnold when you begin to see Arnold himself on commercials for a local car dealership.  You know that the Arnold is actually here when you can’t buy a can of spray-on tan within a 100-mile radius.  You know the Arnold is here when the airport is packed with bulging humans of both species wearing ultra-tight clothing and sporting faces with that kind of lean, rawboned look you normally see on cowboys who’ve spent the last few months huddled in a cabin while tending the herd on the northern range.  You know the Arnold is here when, on your drive downtown, you see large clusters of people heading purposefully to and from the many different Arnold venues, usually carrying massive bags of product they’ve purchased at the exposition booths.

Welcome to Columbus, Arnoldnauts!  We’re glad you’re here, and we hope you have a bulging good time at this year’s Classic.

Lamb, Or Lion?

It’s March — the most unpredictable weather month of the year.

IMG_3200We’re all familiar with the old saying about March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb, or vice versa.  But, which is it?  Sometimes the answer is not so clear.

Last night we had a discussion about whether, in central Ohio, March was coming in like a lion or a lamb.  The temperature was at freezing levels, with snowflakes blowing down.  I took the position that March had come in like a lion.  The alternative view was that 32 degrees and a little snow wasn’t that bad, and that you could only invoke the lion if the weather was abysmal — temperatures in the teens, raging blizzards, and so forth.  That seems like an awfully high leonine standard to me.  It’s just a lion, after all, not Godzilla or Darth Vader.

So, I’m going with the lion.  If March had come in like a lamb, it seems to me, there’d be kids on the seats of the teeter-totter at the neighborhood playground, not swirling snowflakes.

No Way To Run A Railroad

It’s hard to believe — but then again, maybe it’s not so hard to believe.  Our divided, dysfunctional government was unable to reach agreement, so $85 billion in “automatic” sequestration cuts occurred yesterday, after President Obama signed an executive order putting them into effect.

President Obama called the cuts “dumb” and “arbitrary.”  He’s right — and in fact, you could use even stronger terms, like imbecilic and ludicrous.  So why did the President and the White House play a central role in devising the idiotic “sequestration” concept to begin with, and why wasn’t he able to do what was necessary to avoid the cuts from taking effect?  The President, of course, immediately blamed congressional Republicans for their intransigence and refusal to consider additional tax increases, and maybe the public will decide that the Republicans should be the whipping boys this time, as they have been in the past.  At some point, however, I think most people will come to accept that some of the blame must fall upon the President.  Rather than working steadily toward a solution, he seems to enjoy playing chicken, waiting until the deadline looms immediately ahead, and then trying to work out a last-minute deal when he thinks the pressure is all on the other side.  This time, obviously, his tactic didn’t work, and the chickens have come home to roost.

I’m blaming everyone for this fiasco — Democrats and Republicans, President and Congress — but I also think the President needs to be held accountable by the media and the public.  It’s incredibly stupid to make blunderbuss cuts when some programs should be eliminated and other programs should be left untouched.  I’m convinced that, if the President and members of both parties simply did their jobs, they could identify $85 billion in rational cuts to replace the “automatic” sequestration cuts.  The President’s inability to lead the way to a reasonable solution so that we don’t lurch from budget crisis to budget crisis falls on his shoulders.

It’s another embarrassing day for our government.