Hoping For The Right Rub-Off Effect

On August 7 the Cleveland Browns will hold the Orange and Brown scrimmage at one of the most hallowed sites in football:  Ohio Stadium.

It’s hard to imagine teams with more different trajectories than the Buckeyes and the Browns.  Last year the Buckeyes won the first college football playoff, in dominating fashion, and collected another national championship trophy.  With high-intensity coach Urban Meyer at the helm, the Buckeyes have rampaged through the Big Ten, thrown the SEC monkey off their backs, and recruited a roster of incredibly gifted athletes.  And with much of last year’s great team returning and more talented players being added, the future looks bright, too.

The Browns are, well, the Browns.  They’ve stunk up the joint for years and become a punch line in the pro football world.  They’ve never made it to the Super Bowl, which is incredibly embarrassing.  Their long-suffering fans expect terrible things to happen — and, unfortunately, all too often they do.

Why are the Buckeyes successful when the Browns are terrible?  Both teams have a great history and tradition, but tradition doesn’t win football games.  You need smart, capable, motivated people at the top who can find the talent, develop the right game plans, and then provide solid leadership and good decision-making at crunch time.  The Buckeyes have all of this, and the Browns don’t.

Maybe by holding a scrimmage at Ohio Stadium the Browns front office and coaching staff can spend some time with Coach Meyer and his staff and learn something.  Those of us who are fans of both the Browns and the Buckeyes can only hope that some of Ohio State’s formula for success might rub off on the snake-bitten team from Cleveland.

Of course, the Browns being the Browns, we probably need to worry that some of the Browns’ record of failure and disaster might rub off on the Buckeyes.

Cookies For Crohn’s

IMG_5606My sister, Cath, is a very determined and persuasive person.  So when she asked me to bake some cookies for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation fundraiser being hosted by my nephew tonight at JT’s Pizza, I bowed to the inevitable.

If you’re in the Columbus area at 5:30 tonight and close to JT’s Pizza at 2390 Dublin-Granville Road, stop by!  It’s a good cause.

A Well-Made Cocktail (II)

IMG_5601Last night Kish and I stopped for a drink at Curio, the excellent German Village cocktail lounge connected to Harvest Pizzeria.  Curio is a cozy joint with an interesting decor, a handful of private booths, and an extensive and interesting menu of concoctions, with servers and bartenders interested in providing a high-end cocktail lounge experience.

We decided to try something new, and after perusing the options we asked the server for a recommendation.  She suggested a Floradora — which is actually an old cocktail dating from the early 1900s that has fallen out of favor, but one that is new to us.  Happily, it’s also one of the drinks that are available for a reduced price during Happy hour.

Boy, did she steer us in the right direction!  Made with Old Tom gin, homemade raspberry juice, and some other ingredients, and topped with a fresh raspberry and a skewered piece of sugared ginger, the Curio version of the Floradora is a fantastic summer drink — light, fizzy, and flavorful.  How did it ever fall out of favor as a popular cocktail option?

“Hi Urine”

Our firm uses a “voice mail preview” feature by which a computer program is supposed to interpret voice mail messages left on our phones and give us a transcription of sorts.  The idea is that busy people who are routinely checking their emails can simply read the textual “preview,” figure out what the message is and who called, and then immediately act on it without having to access voice mail itself and listen to a stumbling message that might drone on for a minute or more.

It’s a good concept, but the voice translation process is — how shall we say — imperfect.

Yesterday another attorney at the firm and I were trying to reach each other, but we had one of those days where we each just happened to be out of the office when the other called.  After going back and forth several times, I think she left a message that people commonly leave when they are mired in a frustrating and interminable game of phone tag:  “Tag, you’re it.”  At least, I’m guessing that was the real message — I didn’t actually listen to it after I got the “voice mail preview.”

That’s because the “voice mail preview” interpreted the message as “Hi urine.”

I’m hoping that the “voice mail preview” feature doesn’t an algorithm or program to determine whether the purported transcription satisfies some reasonable plausibility standard.  I’d hate to that that any such program concluded that it was deemed possible that one of my fellow attorneys at the firm would hold me in such low esteem that she would refer to me as liquid bodily waste.

Tat Trouble

In case you’re looking for another reason to not get a tattoo, let me be of assistance — medical researchers are finding that a measurable portion of people who get inked report skin reactions which can last for months, or longer.

A recent study published in the thrillingly named journal Contact Dermatitis interviewed 300 New Yorkers with tats in the area around Central Park in June 2013.  (Wouldn’t you love to know, by the way, whether it took more than 15 minutes to find 300 inked people around Central Park, and how many of the people approached told the researchers to stick it?)  Ten percent of respondents reported having problems with their body art, ranging from rashes to itching, swelling, infections, delaying healing, and skin bumps, with six percent saying the problems continued for more than four months.  Some of the reactions appear to be responses caused by the body’s immune system.

The study also indicates that conditions seem to be related to the color of the ink used, with skin problems reported for red ink at levels disproportionate to the commonness of red ink tattoos. Researchers don’t yet know whether the reactions are due to the ink itself, or to brighteners or preservatives used with the ink — but then, tattoo-related conditions haven’t exactly been a hot topic in the medical research field.  That’s unfortunate because, as Dr. Marie Leger, spokesperson for the study, said, “The skin is a highly immune-sensitive organ, and the long-term consequences of repeatedly testing the body’s immune system with injected dyes and colored inks are poorly understood.”  No kidding!

If you’ve ever had poison ivy or a bad rash, you know that there are few things more maddening than persistently itchy skin.  I can’t imagine dealing with it for months, or even years.  With tattoos becoming increasingly common — Dr. Leger estimates one in five adult Americans has at least one tattoo — maybe it’s time to take a careful and systematic look at just what risks are involved in getting permanently inked up.

Lost Dog

IMG_5592I passed this already weathered poster on my way to work this morning, and the lost, big-eyed expression on Frida’s face made me want to ditch work and go looking for her then and there.  I didn’t, of course, but I did keep an eye out for her on my walks to and from the office.  The picture made it easy to imagine the little dog shivering, rain-soaked, and unable to find her way home.  Unfortunately, Frida was nowhere to be found.

There are few things sadder and more heart-tugging than a “lost dog” poster on a telephone pole.  All dog owners can identify with the person who turned around and found that her dog darted away, or was mysteriously gone from the backyard.  We can envision the frantic, fruitless search, the drive through nearby streets looking for the lost pup, and then finally the desperation that causes the little Xeroxed signs to be stapled to telephone poles and bulletin boards in hopes that someone might have seen the beloved family pet.

Keep an eye out for Frida, will you?

Business Blogger

Richard has started his new job at the San Antonio Express-News, and one of the first things he’s done is restart the blog “Shop Talk,” which will collect news about developments in the retail sector in San Antonio.  His first post on the blog is here.

A lot of newspaper work these days is in the social media sphere, on blogs, Twitter feeds, and other outlets that I can’t even begin to identify.  The reality is that many young people are getting their news electronically, and social media also allows news to be published immediately, rather than waiting until next morning’s newspaper.

The retail area, too, is one that is interesting to most people.  Many of us worked in retail at some point in our lives — as a server in a restaurant, as a cashier at the grocery store, or as a sales clerk at a clothing outlet — and virtually everyone shops at retail stores.  As a result of our significant exposure to retail shops, some questions are just intrinsically interesting, like — how much does shoplifting cost stores, and what are the costs, in reputation and potential liability, in pursuing an aggressive no-tolerance policy?  Are all employers requiring applicants to take drug tests and no-smoking pledges these days?  And is it true that clothing manufacturers, recognizing that Americans are becoming portly, have increased the sizes of clothing, so that what is now marked a 32 waist would have been a 34 waist three years ago?

If you’re interested in retail trends, the Shop Talk blog is worth following — as is Richard’s Twitter feed.