In A Car2Go

Today I was scheduled to have lunch with the Rising Star.  When I stopped by her office, she looked at me with a mischievous grin and asked whether I was up for an adventure.  When I said yes — after, admittedly, a moment’s hesitation — she said we’d be taking a Car2Go to the Indian Oven.

Car2Go is the minute-by-minute rental car fleet that you can use in downtown Columbus.  The Rising Star and her husband are members, and also participate in the CoGo bike rental program. They frequently use Car2Go, CoGo, their feet, or some combination of the same to get to their evening destination and back again.  Today the Rising Star handled the Car2Go process — which includes swiping your membership card, confirming your identity, answering a few questions, getting the key, and then proceeding on your journey — like an experienced pro.  I was impressed.

IMG_2480A few observations about Car2Go vehicles:  (1) The smart cars are more spacious than I expected.  It’s a two-seater, but there’s plenty of leg room, and I didn’t feel cramped at all.  (2) The vehicles don’t seem to have a lot of power, and you wouldn’t want to be taking them out onto the Bonneville Salt Flats for a little rat-racing, but there’s enough oomph to get you around downtown in good order.  (3) It’s weird to get into a car, turn it on, and hear a stranger’s radio station preference.  The person who used our Car2Go vehicle most recently had tuned the radio to WNCI, which is the modern pop station in Columbus and one which I haven’t listened to since, say, 1973.  I was tempted to tune it to some appalling seniors station right before we left the car, but I resisted.  (4)  The smart cars can turn on a dime and can fit into the smallest imaginable parking spaces, which is pretty handy when it comes to downtown driving.  The Rising Star easily found parking spaces and was able to zip in and out on our short trip across downtown.  (5)  There was a parking ticket in the “glove compartment” area of the dashboard.  The Rising Star explained that Car2Go users can park the cars in any standard parking spaces in the designated footprint area of Columbus, but can’t park in a 30-minute spot.  Sure enough, when we checked the ticket, it was for that violation.  The ticket will be routed to the offending user.

It was a pleasant ride to IO, and as always the food there was fantastic.  Fortunately for us — and for the people of downtown Columbus — our Car2Go car was still where we parked it when we left the restaurant, and as a result Columbusites fortunately were spared the unseemly sight of a sweaty, out-of-shape 50-something guy huffing and puffing on a bicycle ride back to our starting point.  But the Rising Star, as always, was right — it was an adventure, and a fun one at that.  One of these days I’m going to try a CoGo, I think.

A Heartfelt Message From “Donk”

The fallout continues from the discharge of Jonathan Waters, the Director of the Ohio State University Marching Band.

IMG_1898Jocelyn Smallwood, whose TDBITL nickname was “Donk” and whose nickname was prominently featured in the report that precipitated the dismissal, has written a lengthy letter to the new President of the Ohio State University.  It’s a great letter, and it helps to flesh out the range of emotions and reactions to the report and the dismissal.

Band members, band alumni, band parents and friends, and members of Buckeye Nation feel passionately about The Best Damn Band In The Land.  It’s one of the things that separates TBDBITL from the run of the mill college bands and makes it an elite institution.  It shouldn’t be a surprise to OSU administration that the dismissal has provoked strong reactions.

The Leftovers

Most of our lives are pretty conventional.  We drive to work in the mornings, do our jobs, try to watch our weight, and behave in reasonably appropriate ways in social settings.  If we are going to venture beyond that conventional world, we’re probably going to have to do it through the TV set.

This is why Kish and I are now watching The Leftovers on HBO:  because everyone should watch a TV show that causes them, at regular intervals, to think “What the hell . . . .?”  I loved Twin Peaks — which I would nominate as the single most bizarre TV show ever broadcast on a mainstream network — so this kind of stuff is right up my alley.

The context of The Leftovers is simple.  Three years ago two percent of the world’s population mysteriously vanished, and now the leftovers are trying to deal with it.  I think it’s fair to say that most of them aren’t dealing with it very well, including the chronically unshaven town police chief who is the central character.  His wife has joined a cult, his son is protecting a woman apparently impregnated by a messiah-like figure, and his daughter has gone rogue.

Social order seems to be on the verge of totally breaking down.  Attendance at conventional churches has plummeted.  Lots of cults have since sprung up, including the Guilty Remnant, a white-clothed, chain-smoking, non-talking group that engages in civil disobedience tactics and clashes with townspeople who just want to move on.  One of the signs in the GR enclave says rather, than “let us pray,” “let us smoke.”  Why do they smoke so much?  Is it because they just don’t care if they die horrible, cancer-caused deaths?  Is it because they think breathing and talking are interfering with recognition of what is really happening?  We don’t know, but we hope to find out.  Watching the show is like slowly peeling back the layers of an onion.

Each episode, inevitably, some oddball incident occurs that makes you wonder whether any of what we are seeing is reality, rather than the fevered dream of a person in a coma.  A mystical deer trashes a kitchen, then gets chased and devoured by a pack of now-feral dogs on a quiet suburban street.  White shirts mysteriously go missing.  A car suddenly stops its standard operation.  And then there are deeply disturbing scenes, such as a brutal stoning of a member of the GR.  Oh, and there is a governmental agency that deals with the cults that seems to exist mostly to dispose of the bodies of cult members who have been killed by the rest of us.  All of this is presented through deep symbolism that I can’t begin to appreciate or even describe.

When Sunday night rolls around, Kish and I are primed for our bracing dip into the cold world of existential, left-behind weirdness.  After watching The Leftovers, we’re ready for just about anything our conventional, everyday worlds might throw at us.