The Nut Zone

The Nut Zone is not a place that relates in any way to the current presidential campaign.  No, it’s found in our backyard during the autumn months.

An enormous black walnut tree hovers over our backyard.  During the summer, it provides welcome shade.  When fall comes, however, the tree drops tangerine-sized nuts, ready to bean any unsuspecting visitor. You’re sitting, casually trying to enjoy the last few rays of sunshine before the cold fronts move in — then suddenly the wind ruffles the tree branches, and the bombardment begins. Nuts drop to the ground, clanging off lawn furniture and bouncing off flagstones, startling the unwary, and you realize that but for good fortune they might dent your noggin and leave you dazed and spreadeagled on the cooling ground.

Well, maybe it is a bit like the presidential campaign, now that you mention it.

Tooth Technology

Last Tuesday night I was watching TV when I suddenly felt a pebble in my mouth.  “What the,?” I thought.  “Where did that come from?”  Except it wasn’t a pebble.  When I fished it out of my mouth, and then went and looked in the mirror, I saw that part of a tooth had somehow broken off.  Fortunately, the nerve wasn’t exposed, and it wasn’t painful, but it sure looked and felt weird.

broken-teeth-repairI don’t know what caused a part of the tooth to break off like that.  I hadn’t been slugged in the chops or hit in the face by a hockey puck.  My understanding is that, even long after we reach adulthood, our teeth keep moving slightly along the gums, like the tectonic plates shifting under the San Andreas fault line.  The tooth in question had been increasingly pressing against its neighbor, and it may have been that the stress finally caused a fracture.  (Or, it may have been that I like eating almonds, and also like crunching on ice cubes, but I’m going with the “moving tooth” theory because it leaves me blameless.)

I groaned when I saw the broken tooth, because I thought the lack of structural integrity in the tooth might require some major dental repair work, like a crown or maybe even an implant.  But when I went to see my dentist yesterday morning he took a look at the breakage, expressed his sympathy, said he’d have me fixed up in no time at all, and went right to work.  First he slathered on some goop, then he did some sculpting to give it the appropriate tooth shape, then he stuck a plastic sheet between the tooth and its neighbor to create the appropriate dental floss gap, then he used some kind of heat ray/laser light gizmo that looked like some throwback to a Flash Gordon movie.  The process ended with him grinding and polishing the reconstructed tooth so that it felt like a natural tooth, and then handing me a mirror so I could check it out for myself.  To my amazement, the rebuilt tooth looks (and feels) exactly like the old tooth — and the whole process took less than a half hour, without any need for novocaine or gas.  Within an hour or so, I was eating a pot roast sandwich for lunch without missing a beat.

Everybody makes fun of their trips to the dentist, me included.  We’re all anti-dentites, I guess.  But I’ve got to give credit where credit is due — when the chips were down (pun intended) and my tooth and I needed some serious help, my dentist came through and did a great job.  And it’s interesting that we’ve got the technology that allows a busted tooth to be reconstructed in the time it takes to watch your average TV sitcom.

Weird Car Commercials

If you’ve watched any sports broadcast on TV recently, you’ve undoubtedly noticed two specific commercials that stand apart from the ever-present erectile dysfunction and an-unpronounceable-drug-for-every-condition ads.

matthewIn one of the commercials, Matthew McConaughey gets spruced up, puts on an expensive suit on a dark night, smiles a slight, enigmatic smile, and then falls backward into a pristine pool.  In the other, a prissy, entitled Brit talks about how some people are always able to dodge all of the rules — hey buddy, in this American presidential campaign that hits a little too close to home! — and then visits wheelchair-bound Steven Hawking in his underground Bond villain lair where they talk about the laws of gravity, time, and space.

Curiously, these are car commercials.  McConaughey is peddling Lincoln, and Hawking and his above-of-all friend are hawking (pun intended) Jaguars (which I’d always thought was pronounced Jag-warr, but I now learn from the commercial is pronounced, with an affected British accent, Jag-u-are).  In contrast, say, to the commercials that purportedly astonish slack-jawed “real people” with the sheer number of awards Chevrolet has won in the last two years, the Lincoln and Jaguar ads don’t really tell you anything about the advertised vehicles or even show them very much.  The Lincoln and Jaguar ads are lifestyle ads — the kind that try to convince the credulous that if they just buy the product they’ll get the advertised lifestyle, too.

Okay, I get it.  But I’ve still got a question:  how many people out there really want to be like McConaughey or the Brit who trades witticisms with Hawking in his futuristic bunker?  I guess Lincoln and Jaguar aren’t looking to sell cars to women, for example.  And I doubt that the lifestyles depicted appeal to a huge chunk of the American male population, either.  I, for one, have never aspired to fall backward into a pool while zen-like music plays.  And as much as I admire Steven Hawking’s colossal intellect, I don’t exactly associate him with cars.

Give me the car commercials that feature brightly painted roadsters rolling down a winding, open road on a bright sunny day, whisking through freshly fallen leaves as they round a curve.  Leave the enigmatic smiles and the falling into pools to the erectile dysfunction crowd, will you?

Political Statement

This sign appeared in downtown Columbus a few days ago.  At first I thought it was there for the Columbus Marathon, but it’s been saying “Blah Blah Blah” for days now — and, as the photo above shows, it’s positioned with the Ohio Statehouse in the background.

Could the sign be a political statement?  Hmmm . . . I wonder.

First Drones, Then . . . ?

Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer, who was slotted to start game 2 of the American League Championship series for the Tribe, cut his pinky fixing a drone.  Because professional baseball pitchers do need use of their hands, his scheduled start will be moved back to game 3.

a958c94acc5fbb76d5b1737fd41d3600Sure . . . a drone-related injury.  Well, why not?  When the Indians are trying to win their first World Series since 1948, you’ve got to expect the unexpected.  So a drone-related injury really isn’t all that weird.  Here are my thoughts on some other likely obstacles that the Indians will have to overcome:

  • Freak storm dropping 18 inches of snow during the fifth inning of game 2
  • Entire Indians team experiences food poisoning from eating poutine the night before game 3
  • Zombie uprising strikes Toronto, with half of the Tribe bullpen converted into grotesque freaks who crave human flesh
  • Alien invasion during the performance of the National Anthem at the start of game 4

Or here’s something really weird:  maybe the Tribe will avoid any more oddball injuries or other mishaps and actually advance to the World Series.  What could be weirder than that?


The Airline Diet

In my lifetime, there have been many diet fads.  Scarsdale.  Atkins.  The Caveman Diet.

But what about the Airline Diet?  That’s the diet in which you would do nothing except eat and drink what you get for free on an airplane trip.  Diet Coke or water for refreshment.  Peanuts and maybe some crackers for sustenance.  All served by a hurried attendant rolling a cart down a narrow aisle, and consumed on a plastic tray that hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned as you sit bumping elbows with complete strangers.

Sure, your sodium content probably would go through the roof, but you’d soon lose any interest in food — which seems to be the goal of many diets, anyway.  When you see people eating on an airplane, it’s a purely mechanical exercise.  You munch on the food because it’s been given to you and it’s something to do while you’re up in the air.  No one is really paying much attention, much less savoring the experience.  Of course, with a steady diet of Diet Coke, peanuts, and Cheese Nips, who would?

Long’s Gone

When you get older, you come to accept the inevitability that things you remember from your youth — whether it is TV shows, favorite athletes, failed breakfast cereals, or brands of beer — will vanish into the mists of time.

mt_long_book_demo_fs_3Still, it was weird to see recent photos of demolition equipment tearing down Long’s college bookstore, across the street from the OSU campus.  When I attended Ohio State back in the ’70s, Long’s was as much a part of the University as the Orton Hall chimes.

Everyone who went to Ohio State — and that covers a lot of people — stopped into Long’s, or its nearby competitor, SBX, to buy their textbooks.  Students would take their course syllabi, scan for the required texts, and then head to Long’s to get the books.  It was a crammed yet sprawling, ramshackle store that also sold OSU fan gear and therefore attracted a good crowd of Buckeye fans, which just added to the hustle and bustle of the place.

At Long’s you would learn that your college professors often wrote the textbooks for the courses they taught . . . and that the texts seemed to carry an awfully high price tag compared to some of the other books available.  But, what could you do?  It was a required text, and how in the world could you expect to pass the course if you didn’t have one?  Experienced students learned that it paid to get to the bookstores early, because with luck you could find a reasonably used copy of the text at a much lower price.  And then, at the end of the quarter — for it was quarters, not semesters, back in those days — you would resell your books to Long’s or SBX for pennies on the dollar.  Why?  Because it was a buyer’s market, and no college student wanted their apartment cluttered with texts from Philosophy 101 or Poli Sci 265, and you’d rather get a few bucks that you could spend on beer and pizza.  It’s not like you were ever going to read a textbook again, anyway.

In this simple way, Long’s taught naive OSU students some valuable lessons.  Buy low, sell high.  Brace yourself for a gouging.  And understand that the world isn’t fair.

Those are some pretty enduring life lessons, when you think about it.