When Animals Attack — Or Not

When Animals Attack! featured footage of animals attacking humans.  Of course, animals can “attack” in different ways.

IMG_0907I doubt if Penny would intentionally attack anyone in the conventional sense.  That would be unseemly and require too much exertion.

Nevertheless, Penny still is a key component of our household defense system.  If an intruder invaded our hearth and home, he could easily be disabled by tripping over Penny’s snoring body stretched out on the kitchen floor.  As is the case with any natural predator, her brown coat blends seamlessly with the color of our wood flooring, making her an even greater hazard for the unwary housebreaker.

Or, the miscreant could pull a muscle or throw out his back trying to move Penny’s dead weight from her prone position.

Or, if the trespasser had any scrap of food on his person, Penny might inadvertently knock him down in her single-minded quest to fill her belly.

Some people have dogs that growl and bite.  We have a dog that sleeps.

The Best Restaurant In The World

If you want to go to the best restaurant in the world — at least, according to Restaurant magazine — you need to hop on a plane and fly to Spain.

The restaurant is El Celler de Can Roca, located in Catalonia.  It was started by two brothers in the 1980s, who were then joined by a third brother in 1997, with each brother being responsible for one facet of the restaurant’s operation.  (Guess UJ and I need to get started on our “best in the world” business concept!)  El Celler de Can Roca is celebrated for the pervasive family dynamic in the restaurant, its understated but passionate ambiance, and the creativity and technical innovation of the food.

Five American restaurants make the top 50 list:  Eleven Madison Park and Per Se, both in New York City, Alinea, in Chicago, Le Bernardin and Daniel, in New York City, and The French Laundry, in Yountville, California, in the Napa Valley.

How do you really decide the best restaurant in the world?  Restaurant magazine actually publishes a “manifesto” on the topic — which indicates that the best dining experience is decided by the gut instinct (pun intended) of the gourmets who did the voting, rather than in a dry set of factors to be considered.  I agree with that approach.  When I go to a restaurant to have a fine meal, I’m not weighing checklist items, I’m looking for a wonderful and memorable experience.  It sounds like El Celler de Can Roca delivers.

Grandpa’s Bowling Team

IMG_3667I ran across this classic photo recently and had to share it.  It’s a picture of Grandpa Neal’s bowling team, circa the mid-1920s.  That’s him in the middle of the back row — the slender, square-jawed fellow who still had some hair to part.

A pretty somber bunch, aren’t they, with their little bow ties, and long-sleeved, buttoned-up white shirts, and carefully shined shoes?  I doubt if they ever called a beer frame or engaged in any horseplay that might detract from their ability to pick up the ten pin.  Bowling was serious business in those days, when Akron was one of the centers of the bowling universe and dozens of teams competed for bragging rights in the Akron Masonic League.

Grandpa Neal loved bowling, and he participated in the Akron Masonic League for more than 60 years, until well into his 90s.

A Weekend Without A “Weekend”

Here it is Monday, and I feel like I didn’t have a “weekend.”

IMG_3665It was one of those hectic working weekends, where Saturday and Sunday were packed from morning to evening with office obligations and important jobs on the home front.  As a result, there was no time for the relaxation and lazy hours that make the normal weekend so enjoyable.  No golf, no afternoon trip to the movie theater, and no whiling away the morning hours listening to music.

I was feeling a bit sorry for myself this morning for missing out on some mental down time, then I told myself to suck it up.  A weekend is a relatively modern invention, after all; for most of human history our ancestors had to work hard every day just to get by.  Sometimes life just doesn’t allow you to punch a clock.

The Blue Jackets Fall Just Short

Kish and I went out to dinner last night with friends, and downtown was hopping.  The Blue Jackets were playing, a potential spot in the NHL playoffs was on the line, and many of the people we saw were wearing their CBJ colors. 

We kept our eye on the TV as we dined, keeping track of the game, and continued to follow it when we stopped in a Short North bar for a frosty adult beverage after dinner.  Everyone in the establishment cheered when the CBJcame away with a hard-fought 3-1 victory, but our joy was short-lived — the other two teams vying for playoff spots won, and as a result the Blue Jackets are once more going to stay home for the NHL playoffs.

It was an exciting season for the Blue Jackets, and even non-hockey fans like me had to appreciate this team that wouldn’t quit and ended the season playing as well as anybody in the NHL.  Still, I’m not much for moral victories.  The fact remains that the CBJ didn’t quite play well enough to make the playoffs, and that is the bottom line.

I hope this young team can stay together, I hope that their young goalie, Sergie Bobrovsky, can continue to play as well as he did this year, and I hope that next year the Blue Jackets play for the entire season like they did over the last six weeks.  Hope, hope, and more hope.  If you are a hockey fan in Columbus, that’s what you’ve got to go on until next fall.

Is Everything For Sale, And If So, Why?

Is everything for sale in America?  Have we reached the point where the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar has become too all-consuming?

An article in MarketWatch, published by The Wall Street Journal, discusses the teaching of Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel, author of the recent book What Money Can’t Buy:  The Moral Limits of Markets.  Sandel posits that at some point over the past 30 years America crossed the line from a market economy to a “market society” in which virtually everything, such as naming rights to public buildings, ad space in school cafeterias, and carbon offsets, is for sale to the highest bidder.  A market economy is a tool for organizing activity in the most productive way, but a market society is one in which market values — rather than morals, ethics, religion, or other non-money-oriented concepts or belief systems — intrudes upon and governs our relationships and our behavior generally.

I’m a big fan of capitalism as an economic system.  Human history has proven that it is the most fair and effective way of allowing people to control their own destinies and create wealth, and no other system even comes close.  But Sandel has a point — there are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed.  When capitalism crosses those lines, the effect is corrupting and defeating of any selfless impulses that motivated the activity in the first place.  When public money is used to erect a public building and the structure is named after whichever large corporation or wealthy individual ponies up the most money for the naming rights, it detracts from the important public, communal element of the endeavor.  When a couple decides to have a child but pays a hefty price to a clinic to try to genetically engineer the perfect offspring, what are they really trying to accomplish?

I disagree with Sandel on one fundamental point.  He is quoted in the article as saying:  “We did not arrive at this condition through any deliberate choice. It is almost as if it came upon us.”  I don’t buy that — no pun intended.  I think part of the witches’ brew of developments that is leading us down the road to perdition is the notion that the public is never to blame for anything, that we are trapped and buffeted by forces beyond our control.  I think people can make a difference and can act morally and ethically; the thousands of acts of kindness and human decency that occurred after the Boston Marathon bombing, where strangers acted purely out of concern for their fellow man rather than concern for the bottom line, prove it.  Our challenge is to bring more, much more, of that same sense of ethical behavior to the public arena and to our everyday lives.

Minding Mel Kiper For Mother’s Day

The NFL draft is underway.  It’s become a three-day extravaganza, which means we get more exposure to Mel Kiper, Jr. and his curious hairstyle than human beings should be expected to endure.

IMG_3664Little did I know that Mel not only is a know-it-all about the draft, he’s also happy to give his “picks” on other topics.  When I went on the ESPN website today, I was amazed to see an ad for a “gift finder” that featured Mel Kiper’s picks for Mother’s Day gifts.  Now you can delight your dear old mother or your lovely wife with a present that has the Mel Kiper seal of approval!  What’s next?  Mel’s grinning mug hawking websites that help you to find the perfect romantic getaway or to decide which college to attend?

I know it’s a joke, but still . . . anyone who relies on Mel Kiper for Mother’s Day ideas needs to step away from the draft board and re-engage with real life.