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.

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.

The Charging Issue

Should you charge your smartphone overnight, or not?  It’s one of those choices that wasn’t an issue years ago but that is now complicating our modern lives.

20150911171157-iphone-charging-apple-batteryThis article on MSN says:  it depends.  The act of charging is bad for the battery on your phone, even though my iPhone, and Android phones, have chips that prevent them from being overcharged.  That’s because one of the recent smartphone advances is the incorporation of technology that allows phones to accept more current, faster.  As a result, we no longer have to groan because it takes freaking forever! for our phones to charge.  But, that quick-charging technology also causes lithium-ion batteries to corrode more quickly than they would otherwise.  So, if you are charging your phone overnight, you are promoting battery corrosion.

Why is the MSN answer “it depends”?  Because the corrosion process is gradual, and batteries usually don’t start showing signs of wear for two years — which is about the period of time many people use a phone before upgrading to get their hands on the latest model.  So, if you’re the kind of person who plans on getting a new phone whenever your cell phone carrier allows you to do so, charge away, baby!

I’m not one of those people; I keep my cell phone until is goes toes up.  I also charge my phone overnight.  Rationally, I accept the conclusion that by doing so I am contributing to eventual battery performance problems, but emotionally it is hard for me to not start the day with a fully charged phone.  I’ve been caught with a dying phone too many times, and therefore my reflex approach is to charge up when I can — like overnight.  But I defer to science.  I’m going to try a new approach, not begin to charge until I get up, and then stop the process when I hit that 100% charged level.  We’ll see how it goes.  Old habits die hard.

The Ray Donovan Parenting Standard

Recently Kish and I have been binge-watching Ray Donovan, the Showtime series about a guy who fixes problems for the rich and famous in Hollywood — usually through violence, extortion, and sex.  It’s a very entertaining and well-acted show, and we’ve enjoyed getting caught up to the current episodes.

960I usually come away from the show with a curious reaction:  Ray Donovan makes me feel good about my parenting efforts.  This is because the parenting of Ray and his wife Abby, and of Ray’s ex-con father Mickey, is outlandishly bad, launching generations of seriously messed-up, dysfunctional offspring.

Mickey cheated on his dying wife, robbed banks, allowed his kids to be serially abused by a Catholic priest and beat up Ray when Ray tried to tell him about it, and urged his son Terry to keep boxing until the repeated punches caused him to develop Parkinson’s disease.  Everything Mickey touches turns to mud.  Ray hates his Dad — but he and Abby really aren’t a whole lot better in the parenting department.  Ray doesn’t show up at home for days at a time.  Abby decides to go to Boston leaving her teenage daughter in charge.  Both parents have obvious affairs, leaving the kids at home to fend for themselves.  Not surprisingly, the kids are struggling — they’ve had issues with violent behavior at school, underage drinking, the daughter had an affair with her teacher, and the son has a gun fixation.  It’s not a happy, huggy family.

Parents don’t often have insight into how they’re doing; they don’t usually get see how other people perform in the parenting roles.  TV families at least give us measuring sticks by which to gauge our own efforts.  No doubt there were many parents who strove to be like Ward and June Cleaver but found they couldn’t quite measure up.  For a long time, TV showed us the idealized families, but now we’re getting to see the other end of the parenting spectrum.

If you’re worried about your parenting, watch Ray Donovan.  I promise, you’ll feel better.

Kitto Katsu

How does a strawberry maple Kit Kat sound to you?  Or a wasabi Kit Kat?  Or a “butter” Kit Kat?  (Admittedly, I don’t have a sweet tooth, and I don’t care for Kit Kats, but I have to say that the last one sounds especially disgusting.)

dsc02575All of those unusual flavors — and many, many more — are variations of Kit Kat that are available in Japan.  In that land across the Pacific, Kit Kat is one of the most popular candy bars around.  There are about 300 different varieties of the venerable wafer and chocolate bar that you’re supposed to snap apart and share with your friend, and each has its own brightly colored wrapper.  New flavors — like the single stick, dark chocolate, coated in gold leaf Kit Kat that was sold for a short time last December — are developed all the time, too.  Even more strikingly, every region of Japan has its own special flavor of Kit Kat that is sold only in that region.

Why is Kit Kat so popular in Japan?  Well, it’s undoubtedly a classic candy bar, but a lot of the popularity has to do with the name.  Kit Kat sounds a lot like kitto katsu, which is Japanese for “surely win” — an expression of good luck.  When Japanese schoolchildren are getting ready to take their tough, make-or-break college entrance exams, they can expect to get a supply of Kit Kats as exercises in positive thinking from their family and friends.

But purple sweet potato Kit Kats?  I guess it’s the thought that counts.

The Ballad Of I-75

This weekend Kish and I drove on the worst freeway in America — the stretch of I-75 between Findlay and Toledo.  It’s been under construction for years, and seems to be no closer to completion than it was when the work started.  I think the first orange cone may have been placed shortly after Washington crossed the Delaware.

Driving it sucks so bad that it moved me to compose this bit of doggerel (with apologies to Sgt. Barry Sadler’s Ballad Of The Green Berets):

IMG_2568The Ballad Of I-75

Today I drove, and hated it

My car was fine, but the highway bit

It’s the worst freeway you can drive

That awful stretch of I-75.

It starts in Findlay, like a funnel

Cars and trucks, in a high-speed tunnel

I’m just hoping I survive

That awful stretch of I-75.

Orange cones here, orange cones there

Orange signs too — they’re everywhere

I’ll see orange ’till I arrive

After that stretch of I-75.

The work began ages ago

When it first started, I do not know

No one who does is still alive

Yet work goes on, on I-75.