Looking To Legalize In The Buckeye State

Should marijuana — growing, selling, and consuming — be legalized in Ohio?  A number of different groups and legalization advocates are pushing to put the issue before voters in the Buckeye State, perhaps as early as this fall.

In fact, there are several apparently well-funded efforts pursuing different proposals that vary in material ways — a sign, perhaps, that legalized marijuana is now a big business, but also a source of confusion.  One proposal wants to permit cultivation and use of medical marijuana, as 23 states have done; others want to move directly to making Ohio the fifth state, after Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, to fully legalize cannabis.  There are other differences as well, on issues such who can grow the crop and where, how much people can possess, and whether revenues from taxes on marijuana would be dedicated to fund pension plans, fix roads and bridges, or used for other purposes.

The bigger question, of course, is whether Ohioans are ready to move toward legalization.  Ohio has never been the leader in new initiatives that move sharply in any direction on the political or social spectrum; it didn’t legalize casino gambling until it was surrounded by states that had done so — and even then only in the throes of the Great Recession when casino gambling promised to deliver desperately needed jobs.  The Buckeye State has long been a place of moderation, where political disagreements don’t get nasty and common sense prevails, which is why Ohio is always a crucial swing state when presidential elections roll around.

I doubt that Ohio voters are ready to legalize marijuana right now.  I expect opponents to make the argument that the Buckeye State should take a wait-and-see approach.  Let the states that have gone the full-scale legalization route be the laboratories of democracy, and let Ohio sit back until the evidence is clearer on what it all means in terms of overall use, drug addiction, crime, job creation, tax revenues, pot tourism, and the other areas that might be affected by legalization.  What’s the rush?  With the bump in employment and tax revenues delivered by the Utica Shale development efforts in eastern Ohio, opponents might argue, it’s not like Ohio needs to be out front on the issue.

On the other hand, Ohio’s status as a bellwether state presumably makes it a tantalizing prospect for legalization advocates.  If moderate, level-headed Ohioans can be convinced to amend their state constitution to legalize marijuana, that would certainly tell you something about the overall national mood on the issue.

Five Pfennig Found

Some people who buy old houses find treasure — caches of money, bearer bonds, or jewelry squirreled away beneath floorboards, behind a loose block in the basement, or in a secret compartment in the attic.  Unfortunately, we haven’t found anything remotely like that in our new house — which actually is an old house, built in the early 1900s.

IMG_4802We have, however, found a 5 pfennig coin.  It was issued in 1950 by the Bundesrepublik Deutschland, or the Federal Republic of Germany — that is, the Cold War era, pre-unification West Germany.  We do live in German Village now, after all, so finding an old German coin is apt.  It makes me wonder if perhaps one of the former owners of this house took a trip back to the Fatherland in the years after World War II, got this coin on his trip, and simply paid no attention to it when he found it in his pocket upon his return.

The pfennig was the equivalent of the penny in the years before Germany switched to Euro, and the pfennig and the penny are linguistically related.  It’s also interesting, and a bit galling, that the value of German coins plummeted as of 1950, the year of our coin.  During the years immediately after the end of World War II, before the Federal Republic became the national government in 1949, some German states got together and minted Deutches Lander coins that are of interest to collectors.  Once the Federal Republic took over, however, its coins became commonplace, so our 5 pfennig coin has no real value — except as blog fodder and a good luck charm.

If only our prior owner had returned to the homeland a few years earlier!

Shopping In The ‘Hood

Many of the new large-scale developments in America are framed as “mixed-use” developments.  They are designed to offer office space, retail shops, and residential options in one planned undertaking, and they are marketed using slogans like “Live. Work. Play.” or “Eat. Shop. Live.”  The idea is that Americans want to get away from sterile suburban designs, where only houses can be found for blocks and blocks, and live in places where they can stroll to a pub, restaurant, or green grocer.

German Village is the quintessential mixed-use area, except it wasn’t pre-planned — it’s that way because that’s what life was like everywhere in America before suburbs were conceived.  Even in the core residential areas you’ll find antique stores, flower shops, coffee houses, art galleries, restaurants, and delis, as well as doctor and attorney offices and even the Franklin Art Glass Studios, which has been making stained glass window since 1924.  As a result, people are constantly out on the streets walking to these commercial establishments, which gives the area an enjoyable bustling feel.  It reminds Kish and me of our old neighborhood on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

If you have commercial establishments in your neighborhood, though, you’d better support them or they won’t be there for long.  Fortunately, this hasn’t been a problem for us.  It’s easy to frequent local businesses when they offer quality goods and services at reasonable prices.  We haven’t bought any stained glass pieces — at least not yet — but we’ve gladly purchased excellent sandwiches to go at Katzinger’s deli, freshly ground coffee at Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, and wine at the Hausfrau Haven, which offers a great selection, helpful advice from the proprietor, and a weekend wine bar to boot.  And when you’ve got G. Michael’s, Lindey’s, the Sycamore, and Barcelona, as well as more casual options, within easy walking distance, it’s not hard to spend your dining dollar in the ‘hood, either.

Shopping and eating out in our neighborhood is one of the things that I like the best about our move.  It makes German Village feel like much more of a real community.

When Walking Is Faster Than Driving

This morning we had one of those dreaded early morning snow storms.  I pulled on my clodhopper shoes with the deep treads, cinched tight my scarf, donned my wool hat, and set out into the cold morning for my walk to work as the snowflakes pelted down.

IMG_4800About 20 minutes later — pretty much the standard time — I arrived at the office, face ruddy from the walk.  As time passed I dimly became aware that other people were struggling to make it to work.  When I heard a co-worker bemoan her two-hour commute, I realized that by walking I had dodged a bullet in the form of a rush-hour snow storm.

I hate to admit it, but I felt kind of good when I heard other people at the office  tell their commuting horror stories.  It legitimized our decision to move to German Village in the first place, because part of the motivation for the move was to avoid the ball-busting weather-delayed drives.  I wouldn’t quite describe my reaction as schadenfreude — because I wasn’t exactly reveling in the misfortune of others — but it was similar, because I was feeling good about the action we had taken to avoid experiencing such misfortune myself.

I’m very much enjoying my walks into work.

Fam Scam

Yesterday I got an email from Russell during the middle of the day at my work email address.  Except it wasn’t really from Russell.  It was a fake, undoubtedly sent by a crook somewhere out there in the digital world hoping to perpetrate a fraudulent scheme.

The scam is called “spear phishing.”  The fraudster identifies actual email addresses that have legitimately communicated with you, then sends you an email that appears to come from someone you know.  Because the email address looks genuine, it makes it past the spam filter to your inbox.  You’re supposed to treat it with the speed and cavalier attention that most email receives and reflexively open it and click on the link that has been sent.  If you do that you’re sunk, because the unthinking click installs malware on your computer that allows the scammer to capture personal information that permits him to make false charges on your credit cards, empty your bank account, and commit identity theft.

The key building block of spear phishing is the recipient’s reflexive, unthinking treatment of every piece of email that comes to the inbox.  When I got the email that appeared to come from Russell, I immediately worried that there was some problem — but after that first instant of concern I noticed that the email address was an old one, and saw that the email itself had no message but just a link to some apparent healthcare entity, and my guard went up.  Something about the email didn’t seem right.  Of course, it was possible that it might be a real message — but just to be sure I sent Russell a text to ask if he had sent an email, and he responded that he hadn’t.

I try to be mindful of the ever-present risk of fraud on the internet.  When it comes to email, I look for language issues in messages and weird combinations of addressees, and I never click on links sent in unanticipated emails.  I also hope, though, that a special level of hell is reserved for spear phishers who misuse existing relationships to cheat the unwary out of their money and their private identities.  In  his Divine Comedy Dante consigned them to Malebolge, the Eighth Circle of Hell, where the souls of deceivers and fraudsters are constantly tormented by intensely painful, ever-burning flame.  That seems about right.

Tissue Dog

Kasey is a unique dog.  Many dogs like trash, of course.  Kasey does, too.  But Kasey especially craves a certain kind of trash — used Kleenex from the bathroom wastebasket.

IMG_4798_2If you leave the bathroom door open and the wastebasket on the floor within Kasey’s reach, it’s just a matter of time before you hear a bang and clatter and then see old Kasey shuffling by, munching on a mouthful of tissue and guarding it zealously when you try to get it away from her.

Disgusting, you say?  Sure!  But dogs do a lot of disgusting things, from appalling tongue swabs of their nether regions to up-close-and-personal sniffs of assorted animal droppings to hearty bites of flyblown roadkill.  By comparison, chowing down on used Kleenex is a minor transgression in the canine health and sanitation area.

The mysterious question, however, is:  why used Kleenex?  As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot that we don’t know about Kasey’s history, given her Erie County Humane Society past.  Did she once have to survive on Kleenex to fill her belly?  Is eating used Kleenex the canine equivalent of nose-picking?  Does the Kleenex remind her of something pleasant from her past?  Are her senses of smell and taste so acute that she can identify the human who used the tissue?

Kasey will never tell.  I’d ask her, but she’s working on a mouthful of Kleenex right now.

Jews In Europe, Again

On Saturday, a gunman in Copenhagen went on a rampage at a free speech event and then shot and killed a Jewish man guarding a synagogue before being killed by police; Danish authorities think he may have been trying to recreate last month’s murderous attacks at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, and a kosher supermarket, in Paris.  On Sunday, hundreds of Jewish tombs were desecrated in eastern France.  Surveys of Jews in Europe show increased worries about anti-Semitism, and a recent hidden camera video shows a Jewish man being insulted, spat upon, and threatened as he walked the streets of Paris.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to the Denmark incident by calling for Jews to emigrate to Israel; he said Jews deserve protection in every country but warned that the attacks will continue.  Some Jewish leaders in Europe rejected that call, arguing that, in one man’s words, for Jews to leave Europe would be handing Hitler a “posthumous victory.”  They contend, instead, that Jews should remain and advocate for increased democracy, vocal rejection of anti-Semitism by governments in the Eurozone, and increased police protection of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries.

What should Jews do?  No one is predicting a second Holocaust — but no one predicted a first Holocaust, either.  No one wants to retreat in the face of depraved and murderous attacks, but would you want to continue to expose your family and children to potentially unsafe conditions and a culture in which slurs and physical intimidation are increasingly commonplace?  It’s an impossible individual choice, being made against the dark historical backdrop of genocide that happened on the European continent less than a century ago.

The burden instead must fall on governments to stop Europe from backsliding into hell.  Protest marches and public pronouncements are nice, but more must be done to stop the anti-Semitic wave, demonstrate the commitment to a Europe that welcomes and includes Jews, culturally and politically, and aggressively identify and prosecute the perpetrators of street bullying, vandalism, shootings, and every other anti-Jewish criminal act.  Americans can reinforce that message by not spending their money in Europe unless action is taken.

If people are to leave the European continent in the wake of an anti-Semitic wave, it should be the wrongdoers, not the persecuted.

The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.

I am a good dog.  I really am.  I am a faithful member of the pack.  I guard the house and patrol the perimeter.  I keep an eye on Kasey and try to keep her out of trouble.  I am good company for the Leader, too.

IMG_4797_2So why do the Leader and the old boring guy keep moving into places that have these terrible things?  When I saw these yesterday, I said:  “Oh no!  Not again!”  But when I saw our pack’s things here, I knew I was stuck.

I hate these slippery and slidey things.  I even hate them more than I hate cats, or that mean dog that tried to bite Kasey once.  When I try to walk on these things, I feel like I am on an icy pond.  I am afraid that my paws and legs are going to go shooting out sideways and I am going to fall on my chin.

Why oh why did we come here?  You know, I bet the old boring guy had something to do with this.  But I’ll teach him a lesson.  I won’t go up them, period.  At night, I’ll just sit at the bottom and whimper and bark.  Ha, ha!  Good luck getting some sleep, old boring guy!

We’re All Connected, Commercially

Here’s the latest confirmation of the interconnectedness of the modern commercial world.

We’re waiting to get shutters to put on the windows of our new house.  The shutters were ordered weeks ago, were assembled somewhere in Asia — since you’re ordering from a company through a contractor, it’s hard to know exactly where — and are sitting on a ship outside the Port of Los Angeles.

Good news, eh?  They should be here any day, delivered by rail or long-haul truck, right?

Not so fast!  There’s a labor problem at ports up and down the west coast, related to the expiration of a contract between port operators and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union that has clogged the ports.  In response to what it considers to be unfair demands by the union, the Pacific Maritime Association closed the ports this weekend, and President Obama has dispatched the Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, to try to personally broker a deal between union and management.

Ports are one of those crucial — but often overlooked — commerce choke points where problems can have huge repercussions.  In this case, a dispute at the Port of Los Angeles has kept eager people from Columbus, Ohio from getting shutters initially shipped from some foreign location.  I hope the Labor Secretary knows his stuff.  We want our shutters!

Sunset Over The Recycling Bins

IMG_4795-0
The Kroger at Brewers’ Yard hosts an impressive array of recycling bins. We made full use of them today, making three trips with full carloads of deconstructed cardboard boxes and packing paper. When the last carload was delivered the sun was setting, making for as picturesque a scene as you could hope for when recycling bins are involved.

So, we’ve been socially responsible, and now our house is largely box and paper-free. It’s a good feeling both ways.

Moving With The Herlihy Boys

One last observation about moving:  it sucks almost by definition.  You’re putting all of your stuff — that overwhelming, ridiculous, crippling mass of used material goods that we inevitably accumulate and that follows us around during our lives — into boxes and bags and trucks, taking it to a pristine location, and then taking it out of the trucks and boxes and bags all over again.  It’s a lot of work, and it also makes you ask a central, challenging question:  what is all this stuff, and why in the world do I have it in the first place?

IMG_4787When you find a moving company that actually seems to care about your stuff — treating it with care, rather than the brisk, get-it-over-with-as-quickly-as-possible contempt for your possessions, walls, and door frames that seems to be the order of business for many moving companies — it’s a pleasant surprise that deserves a pat on the back.

Let me therefore commend the Herlihy Moving & Storage Company of Columbus, Ohio.  They packed us up, stored our earthly goods while we were in the rental, and then came to move us into the new place on a cold day with checklist efficiency and professionalism.  One of the movers, Michael, was personally involved in both packing us up and moving us back in, and he showed an amazing aptitude for recalling where things were in our old house that made our placement decisions in our new house in much easier,  It was the kind of human touch that often is missing in the cold world of modern business.  (Plus, I appreciated that he complimented me on my old-school choice of Adidas sneakers.)

Kudos to the Herlihy Moving and Storage Company and their friendly staffers, and thanks.

New Refractions

IMG_4778Yesterday, when we were waiting for the movers to arrive and enjoying the calm before the proverbial storm, we learned something about our new house:  on a sunny day, when the light strikes the art class design in our front window, the refraction makes a very cool design that moves across the wall as the sun rises in the sky.

It was a bright, pretty start to a very long moving day.

Bad Choice

So the Democrats have picked Philadelphia as the site for their 2016 National Convention, selecting the City of Brotherly Love over the other two finalists — Columbus, Ohio and Brooklyn, New York.

Apparently Philadelphia’s role in American history tipped the balance.  According to the New York Times report, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz touched the Liberty Bell and said:  “In addition to their commitment to a seamless and safe convention, Philadelphia’s deep-rooted place in American history provides a perfect setting for this special gathering.”  Because both Columbus and Brooklyn presumably also were committed to having “a seamless and safe convention” — at least, you’d sure hope so — we can surmise that Philadelphia’s past role as site of the Constitutional Convention, home of Ben Franklin, and so forth was the deciding factor.

I’m a fan of Philly, but I think this is a bad choice — and not just because I’m a Columbus resident who hoped that both the Republican and Democrat conventions would be held in the Buckeye State in 2016.  The issue is whether you are forward-looking, or backward-looking.  It’s like the decision that was made years ago to change the location of the presidential inauguration ceremony from the east side of the Capitol building to the west side.  The east side had tradition, but the west side was spacious, with a vista spanning the Mall and its monuments.  The country’s future lay to the west, and moving the inauguration ceremony was a solid symbolic move — as well as allowing more space.

Which city best represents the future here?  Growing Columbus, with its bustling economy?  Diverse Brooklyn, which is constantly reinventing itself?  Or Philadelphia?