One of the more adventurous birds in the mountains around Lake Arrowhead is the Steller’s Jay. It’s a pretty blue color with a high tufted crown — and it loves peanuts. The CSIL spreads peanuts in their shells on the deck, and the jays drop by to grab a peanut, take a few hops, and fly to a nearby tree to extricate the nut from the shell before coming back for more.
We’re moved up and into the mountains due east of Los Angeles, near Lake Arrowhead, where my California Sister-In-Law has a beautiful vacation home called Spyglass. The surroundings are about as different from San Diego as you could imagine. We’ve gone from palmy to piney, and from the commanding heights of the CSIL’s deck you can look east, through a gap in the tree cover, and let your gaze wander over miles of forested expanse to part of the high desert and other mountain ranges at the far horizon.
I got up early, fixed myself a good cup of coffee, and enjoyed the sunrise this morning. It was so still that you wanted to hold your breath, with the absolute quiet breached only by an occasional cry of a native bird. I wasn’t sure you could find any location in Southern California where you could totally get away from highway noise, but here it is.
Who doesn’t like a bright, colorful piñata? But a piñata isn’t necessarily the best table decoration for a collection of professional liability lawyers, is it?
In Ohio, we have cheap foam beer coozies. They don’t look great, but they do keep your beer cold — which is important.
Out here in San Diego, they’ve got much more classy coozies. In fact, they’re not coozies at all, but rather beer serapes. It’s the Corona covering of choice for any fiesta.
The beer tasted very good and went down easy, so I’m not sure whether my serape kept my beer “coozie cold.” It sure looked good, though.
We’re out at the Omni resort in Carlsbad, California, near San Diego, for meetings. It’s a pretty place, with lots of flowers, fountains, and the Palm Promenade walkway. The most amazing thing about the place from my perspective, however, is the weather — which is astonishingly temperate and mild. We’ve got broiling temperatures in the 90s in Columbus, but the temperature here is around 70, with a gentle breeze, too.
You could get used to it.
Sometimes a sign does more than just provide information. Consider this warning bolted to the gate to the pool at our hotel, for example. Doesn’t it leave you wondering what must have happened, on some grim day in the past, to cause a hotel to post a permanent notice that people who have “active diarrhea” — in itself an extremely evocative phrase — shouldn’t swim in the pool? The mind reels!
You’d like to think that it’s not necessary for hotels to notify guests that if they are suffering from uncontrollable physical conditions that are inevitably going to soil the water in a communal pool, thy shouldn’t take a dip. After all, chlorine can only do so much. But apparently that’s not the case. It’s just another sign — in this case, a literal one — that the normal code of behavior no longer holds, and the world is going to hell.
Here’s some good news: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics reported this week that the percentage of the adult population that smokes cigarettes has reached its lowest level since the government began keeping track of that activity.
The CDC report concluded that, in 2017, 13.9 percent of the adult population in the United States smoked cigarettes. That number is down from 15.5 percent in 2016, and has been steadily declining over the years. Back in the 1960s, more than 40 percent of American adults smoked. Ask anyone who was around during the ’60s, and you’ll hear stories that give you an idea about just how dramatically things have changed since then. When UJ and I went with our grandparents to University of Akron Zips basketball games back in those days, for example, people could smoke in the hallways before entering the seating area. At halftime when you walked through the hallway to get popcorn or a hot dog, you walked through a thick, gag-inducing wall of smoke emitted by throngs of smokers. Now — unless you’re in a Las Vegas casino — you almost never encounter even a whiff of smoke in a public place.
Why are the numbers of smokers falling? Some attribute it to aggressive ad campaigns against smoking and some attribute it to changes in general social mores; others think that a positive feedback loop may have occurred, where the decline in the number of smokers means people see fewer smokers and aren’t tempted to start smoking themselves in the first place. There’s also another reason for the decline: call it coincidence, but people who are smokers often seem to have fatal health problems, like the cancers that claimed three of the heavy smokers in my family.
While the overall trends are encouraging, there’s still work to be done. Even though adult smokers now number less than 14 percent of the population, that still amounts to millions of people who are in the grip of a very bad habit. And the statistics show a real disparity in the percentage of smokers by location, with city dwellers much less likely to smoke than residents of rural areas. We need to continue to work on getting current smokers to quit, and convincing potential smokers to never pick up one of those coffin nails in the first place.