About webnerbob

A Cleveland and Ohio State sports fan who lives in Columbus, Ohio

Slowing Down

I’m sorry to report that our dog Kasey seems to be slowing down.  That’s OK — it’s what happens to old dogs, and to old people, too.  But it also makes us sad.

We first noticed it because Kasey is now having trouble jumping onto couches and chairs.  In the old days, she could spring onto just about anything from a standing position.  Then, it took a running start, but she made it.  Now, she just puts her front paws on the seat and looks around beseechingly for a friendly face who might give her a lift up to one of her accustomed spots.

IMG_2601There are other signs as well.  She limps from time to time, and she doesn’t seem to like long walks quite as much, and she doesn’t strain at the leash like she used to.  Her head is turning white.  Her eating habits have become more erratic.  She’s more content to sit in the backyard in a cool, quiet spot.  And she’s had a few of those unfortunate “accidents” around the house.

When you notice these kinds of things, the antenna go up and you begin looking for more indications of health problems.  So far, though, we haven’t had to deal with any of those — aside from Kasey’s awful teeth, which seem to be more a product of bad care when she was little than advancing age.

We don’t know how old Kasey is, because she was a fully grown rescue dog when we first met her at the Erie County Humane Society.  We guess that she’s 14 or so, but she’s a smaller dog, and they are supposed to live longer.  We’re hoping that’s true.

In the meantime, Kish is watching Kasey like a hawk, keeping an eye out for gimpiness or apparent bowel problems, so we can get ol’ Kase to the vet at the first sign of trouble.  Kish’s careful observation of Kasey for signs of aging is a bit unnerving, though.  Now that I’ve passed 59, I’m squarely in the zone of scrutiny, too.

100 Years Of The National Park Service

IMG_1961On Thursday, the National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary.

That’s a bit deceiving, because America’s first national park, Yellowstone, was actually created by a statute signed by President Ulysses S. Grant 144 years ago.  Initially, Yellowstone, and then other parks that were created, were under the control of the Secretary of the Interior.  The NPS was created in 1916 to provide for unified management.

Now, there are more than 400 national parks, and the NPS employs more than 20,000 people — but an additional 220,000 people volunteer in national parks.  That’s impressive, but not particularly surprising, because national parks are beautiful places.  And that employment number doesn’t count people who are employed by private companies that offer rafting trips, red bus tours, and other services related in some way to a national park.  In 2015, more than 307 million people visited one of our national parks.

America has has some good ideas in its history, but the concept of national parks — striking and special areas that are to be preserved and maintained for the American people — is one of the best of those ideas.  Anyone who visits a national park can’t help but feel a certain pride in our country, which not only has such beautiful areas but also has carefully cared for them.  And with people hiking, biking, rafting, camping, and otherwise enjoying the magnificent scenery and clean air, national parks tend to be enclaves of enthusiastic, active folks who care about their country and its environment.

I’ve had the good fortune to go to many national parks — including Yellowstone, Grand Teton, the Grand Canyon, and this year, Glacier National Park — but I’ve not visited Yosemite and many others . . . yet.  Hitting many more of our national parks is a bucket list item for me.  And whenever I got to a national park, I’m grateful for the NPS people who keep them patrolled and well maintained, because those parks are a true national treasure.

Happy birthday, National Park Service!IMG_1827

Live-Blogging A Meaningless NFL Exhibition Game

Tonight the Browns play an exhibition game.  I think it was Pete Rozelle who decided that they should be called “preseason” games, because “exhibition” sounds like the games are meaningless.  I say Pete Rozelle can stick it.  The games are meaningless.

So tonight I’ll watch the Browns play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — and I’ll record my thoughts from time to time.  Why not?  I’ve just had a fine meal with my lovely wife — now I’ll go to the opposite end of the spectrum and watch two crappy NFL teams.  Why not?

ETA:  Did Phil Sims just say Justin Gilbert was “good”?  What the hell?  Just because he broke up a pass while running behind the receiver?  NFL commentators have gone far downhill in the credibility department since the days of Al DeRogatis.

Update 2:  Browns gave up a field goal and got a field goal.  That’s not good.  If the Browns hope to do anything this year — and “hope” is precisely the right word –they desperately need to score TDs.  A field goal is not a good sign.

Update 3:  I expect the Browns D to suck this year.  There’s nothing about this game that causes me to change my view.

On the other hand, the brown jersey/white pants combo looks good.  I’ve always like the Browns unis.

Unfortunately, the guys who are wearing them don’t stack up.

Update 4: The current Bud Light commercials are OK, but I miss Spuds McKenzie.

On the other hand, the commercials are better than the Draft Kings spots.

Update 5:  The Browns punt coverage there looked like a junior high team.  Yeah, that’s about right.

Update 6:  I expected the Browns to suck, and they have met my expectations.  The O line is suspect, and the D is porous.  Every Bucs receiver is wide open.  It’s not a recipe for success.

Update 7:  Based on tonight’s performance, I expect RG III to last maybe 3 games, tops.

Update 8: When it comes to the Browns, no expectations can ever be too low.  They’re getting drubbed by a marginal team in the exhibition game that is supposed to give you a good idea of what the season will be like.  If that is true, the season will be like dental surgery without novocaine.

Update 9:  Omigod! The Buccaneers punted!  What the hell!

Update 10:  The nice thing about cable TV is that you can always find something entertaining to watch.  Tonight, it’s the Tribe.

Update 12:  I’m glad the coaches lifted RG III.  Why have him get hurt?  Officially, it’s scrub time.

Update 13:  Well, the Tribe is looking good so far, at least.

Update 14: That does it; I’m done.  No hope for the Browns this season.

Fan Fans

It’s been obscenely hot in Columbus recently.  We’ve had the appalling combination of stifling temperatures, high humidity, and sunshine that make you feel both broiled and wilted at the same time.  Under such conditions, any rational person lingers inside, where they can enjoy the blessings of air conditioning.

IMG_2599Yesterday some friends and I went to a fundraiser at a local business that doesn’t have air conditioning.  (Who knew that such places still exist?)  They did, however, have a big industrial-sized fan that was running at peak speed.  Fans really aren’t an adequate substitute for air conditioning.  In reality, they mostly blow the hot air around.  But any breeze is preferable to sweltering in the hot, dead air, and when there’s no alternative a gigantic fan that’s blasting out air currents at close to hurricane speeds will have to do the trick.

I grew up in a house that didn’t have air conditioning, and the room UJ and I shared always had a window fan during the summer months.  It was loud as hell and didn’t really make the room that much cooler, but it was fun to talk through the spinning blades and hear your voice emerge, chopped up and garbled, from the other end.

Yesterday I resisted the temptation to talk through the fan again, but after standing for a bit to the side of the room, and feeling like we were going to melt into the floor like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz, we shamelessly moved directly in front of the fan.  We tried to avoid completely blocking the air currents, in deference to the other people in the room, but the interests of self-preservation in the face of the blazing heat kicked in and overwhelmed our sense of social decorum.  We weren’t the only ones who were repositioning ourselves in relation to the fan, either.  As the gathering went on, people were drawn to the fan’s wind tunnel effect like moths to a flame.

Fantasy’s End

There’s one good thing so far about the upcoming NFL season — we’re not being constantly bombarded by those annoying commercials for DraftKings and FanDuel, those fantasy sports sites that presented themselves as the roads to big money.

draftkings-valuation-plummetingLast year, you just couldn’t avoid those stupid commercials, where scruffy looking guys got big checks and talked about how they got huge paydays after investing only a few bucks.  For a time, the two principal fantasy sports sites spent more on advertising during sporting events than the beer companies — which is the highest possible standard you can reach when you are talking about advertising designed to reach the American male. We saw those DraftKings and FanDuel commercials in our nightmares.

Now, though, you don’t see or hear much about FanDuel and DraftKings.  ESPN’s Outside the Lines has a good article about why that is so.  It’s long, but it tells an fascinating story about how the sites came to be, their rapid rise to prominence and their aggressive marketing, their competition with each other, their legal troubles — and mostly how they came to be a way for professional players to sweep up the investments of small-time recreational players you were lured by the “get-rich-quick” commercials.  The casual players who thought they knew baseball or the NFL from their everyday status as fans would get creamed by the sophisticated players who had spreadsheets and algorithms and spent all day working the sites.

Ultimately, those annoying, ever-present ads attracted the attention of people like New York’s Attorney General, who started to look into DraftKings and FanDuel and consider whether they violated New York’s laws against gambling.  Ultimately, the NY AG sent letters to the sites telling them to stop accepting bets from New Yorkers.  Other state AGs began investigating, too, and people filed civil lawsuits.  DraftKings and FanDuel worked to get states like New York to regulate the industry and permit it to function, so they could start accepting money from New Yorkers again.  Now the two companies are talking merger and trying to figure out ways to make the games safer for casual players and avoid predatory play by the pros.

It will be interesting to see whether FanDuel and DraftKings make it.  Me, I’m just glad that I’m not seeing the commercials any more.

The Fed On Facebook

Recently the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System — let’s call them the Fed — decided it would be a good idea to have a Facebook page.  You know . . . Facebook, that aging social media site where people post selfies and pictures of babies and weddings and political memes that don’t change anyone’s mind.  Yes, that Facebook.

So why did the Fed decide it needed a Facebook page?  It’s not entirely clear.  After all, the Fed has functioned for decades without having much of a public face.  It’s the grey, boring group behind currency and interest rate decisions, all of which are made by unelected people who are completely unknown to 99.99% of us.  So why Facebook?  Who knows?  Maybe the Fed, like other aging Facebookers, just wanted to get a little attention.

fed20reactions203You can see the Fed’s Facebook page here.  It’s a pretty hilarious page, actually, because the Fed decided to allow people to comment, and every post by the Fed features venomous comments from people who think the Fed has ruined American money, manipulated our currency, and should be audited to determine its fundamental solvency.  The Fed isn’t responding to the comments, so a bland post about one of the Fed’s “key functions” provokes an avalanche of over-the-top haymakers from the Fed haters.  It’s probably the most tonally disproportionate Facebook page in history, and even the American Banker, which is normally pretty sympathetic to the Fed, has declared the Fed’s Facebook page a full-fledged disaster.

It’s hard to imagine that a federal entity would think it’s wise to have a Facebook page, and it make you wonder how much it costs the Fed (that is, we taxpayers) to pay the schlub who writes the puff pieces that then get ripped to shreds by internet trolls who are happy to have a new target for their venom.  I can’t believe anybody at the Fed, or any other federal agency, honestly believes that people are going to learn about the agency and what they do by going to Facebook, as opposed to the agency’s own website or, God forbid, an actual book.  How many people go to Facebook expecting to get the unvarnished truth?   Does anyone?

Maybe there’s a positive in this catastrophic combination of faceless but powerful government entity and social media:  maybe the Fed will decide not to proceed with its impending dips into Tumblr, Ello, Hyper, Shots, and Bebo.