Pumping Gas In Oregon

In Ohio, self-serve gas stations became the norm more than 40 years ago.  I suppose there are some stations with full-service options available somewhere in the Buckeye State, but the overwhelming majority of service stations require you to get out of your car and pump your own gas.  That’s also been true in every other state that I’ve visited where I’ve used a car.

hqdefaultI’ve never been to Oregon, alas.  And apparently Oregon (along with New Jersey) has been the exception to this prevailing rule — until now.  Until this year, gas stations in rural Oregon have been required by state law to employ attendants to pump the gas.  Now, a new law has taken effect that permits self-service gas stations in some rural counties . . . and as the Washington Post and other news outlets are reporting, the reaction among Oregonians has been incredible, and hysterical.  When a TV station issued a tweet asking for reactions to the new law, Oregonians began claiming that they have no idea how to fuel their own cars and also revealing their deepest innermost fears about the issue.  Beleaguered Oregonians expressed concerns at being required to exit their cars on cold days, having to touch a gas pump that has been handled by other germy human beings, and failing to properly insert the gas pump nozzle into the tank and ending up reeking of gasoline.  Indeed, some responders claimed that “many people” aren’t even capable of operating a gas pump.  And thoughtful Oregonians also worried that gas station attendants would lose their jobs and become chronically unemployed, and that the elderly and people with small children would never be able to manage.

Of course, those of us who live in “self-serve states” have managed to pump our own gas for years, without dousing ourselves with hi-test, producing blazing infernos, or suffering from infectious epidemics caused by touching gas pumps.  Why, I’ve even pumped gas with two small children in the car!  Looking back on it now, I can see that it was quite an achievement, even though it seemed like no big deal at the time.

I wish Oregonians well in their efforts to survive the transition to self-serve gas.  And if you’re a self-serve stater who’s going to be visiting Oregon by car in the next few weeks, and on your visit you see puzzled people stopped at gas stations, wondering how to operate the pumps, will you please do the humane thing and lend them a hand?

Black Unis

Tonight Ohio State plays Penn State under the lights at Ohio Stadium.  In any rational world, that would be exciting enough.  Two big-time, tradition-rich programs matching up in prime time, with a lot on the line — the winner stays in contention for a spot to play in the Big Ten Championship Game, and the loser probably doesn’t.

But these days colleges and their athletic departments — prodded by corporate sponsors and marketers — are always looking to up the ante.  So tonight, Ohio State will host a “Black Out,” where all of the people attending are encouraged to wear black gear and the hope is to see the Horseshoe, and its 110,000 occupants, blanketed in darkness.  It’s a pretty cool idea, and definitely a departure from the standard look of the Stadium, where scarlet and gray are the dominant colors.  I’m sure it will help the attendees get even more amped up for the game.

But there’s a hitch — for some people, at least.  As part of the “Black Out,” the Buckeyes will be wearing black uniforms with black helmets.  Black uniforms?  Black helmets?  For some members of Buckeye Nation, the very thought is sacrilegious.  The traditionalists don’t want Ohio State to become the Midwestern equivalent of Oregon, which always seem to wear different, envelope-pushing (and frequently, in my view, ugly) uniforms in every game.  The conservative wing of Buckeye Nation likes the scarlet and gray and simply won’t tolerate any deviation.  The progressive wing, on the other hand, says that Ohio State needs to keep up with the competition, and that recruits — lots of whom will be at the game tonight — think black is really a cool color for uniforms.  Therefore, they argue, showing the option to wear black uniforms just might tip the balance in the Buckeyes’ favor when the time arrives for five-stars to declare the school of their choice.

I’m in the moderate wing of Buckeye Nation, I suppose.  I don’t mind when Ohio State modifies its look from time to time, as in recent years when the Buckeyes have worn “throwback” jerseys that are supposed to honor storied past teams.  Black uniforms will be a more significant departure because there’s no “throwback” argument, but if they make for a more exciting experience for recruits and the crowd at tonight’s game and help the Buckeyes to pull out a crucial win, I’m all for it.

On the other hand, I don’t want to make a habit of messing with the Ohio State uniforms.  We don’t need to get attention with different color combinations or designs or feathered helmets; we make our statements on the field.  Any college football fan who sees the regular uniforms, with their timeless look, knows that they are watching The Ohio State Buckeyes.  And after all, Ohio State picked scarlet and gray as its colors back in 1878 because it was a “pleasing combination” — and that remains true 137 years later.  There’s a reason why The Buckeye Battle Cry speaks of “Men of the Scarlet and Gray.”

Trinity’s End

Tomorrow Ohio State plays its first game.  That means it’s almost time to put aside The Trinity.

The Trinity, of course, refers to the last three games that Ohio State played to reel in the first ever college football playoff championship.  The Buckeyes crushed Wisconsin to get into the playoffs, roared back to upset Alabama in the semifinal game, then spanked Oregon in the National Championship Game to bring home the trophy.

For members of Buckeye Nation, this Trinity of games is just this side of heaven.  They are three of the finest games Ohio State has played in my lifetime, and for them to come back-to-back-to-back, with all of the marbles and pressure and SEC jinxes on the line, is just short of incredible.

So, I’ve watched them, and watched them, and watched them.  I’ve seen the 30-minute version of the Buckeyes’ win over Wisconsin so many times that I’ve pretty much memorized dvery Cardale Jones completion and every catch phrase in Gus Johnson’s commentary.  I’ve watched Ezekiel Elliot split the Alabama defense and rip away for 85 yards so often that I see it in my dreams — which is a good thing.  And the fourth-and-goal stop of Oregon, following by the relentless ground game that chewed the Ducks into bits, is indelibly carved into my memory banks.

But now, it’s time to put those wonderful things away.  When a new season starts, you’ve got to forget the past and focus on the present.  There’s nothing sadder than football fans who live in the past.  I’m sure there are Michigan and Penn State fans who need to go deep into their history to find happy moments — and that’s pathetic.  I’d rather live and die with this year’s team than revel forever in last year’s glory.  That’s part of the fun of sports.

I’ll always remember The Trinity.  In fact, since we’re still more than 24 hours from kickoff, there’s still time for me to enjoy them — one more time.

Shrink To Greatness

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about a novel technique that Ohio State coaches used to prepare their defense for the game against Oregon.

The coaches recognized that Oregon was a fast finesse team that specializes in up-tempo offense that sprints to the line of scrimmage and runs plays faster than anybody else.  So, how to go about mentally and physically preparing your defense for that challenge?  The Ohio State coaches decided to approach the game by asking their defensive linemen to go on diets — reasoning that, by shedding a few pounds, the big boys on the defense would feel lighter and faster, and therefore better prepared mentally for the game.  The rest is history, as the Ohio State defense held the fast-paced, high-powered Oregon offense far below its normal point output.

So, should we all go on The Ohio State Football Team diet?  Will the Silver Bullet Regimen replace the Beverly Hills Diet as the weight-loss approach of choice?  Probably not, because it likely wouldn’t work for most of us.  As the Buckeye players learned, when you’re a 6′ 5″ 300-pound athlete who is running sprints and practicing every day, you can lose five pounds in 10 days just by cutting out honey buns and candy bars.

Game Day

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Well, it’s Game Day. Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes fans have descended on Dallas in force. Last night at dinner there were school colors everywhere in evidence and some friendly bantering between supporters of the two universities.

In addition to anticipation of the game itself, there’s also curiosity and questions about the venue. AT&T Stadium is supposed to be a lavish monument to Texas football. But, where to park? Are there places to eat nearby? How bad will the traffic be? When should we head to Arlington?

Kish calls me the uptight traveler, and she’s right — I like to get to places early. In this case, getting to the game site early not only seems prudent, but it also will allow us to enjoy the pomp and pageantry and building excitement of the very first college football National Championship Game.

Nice Try, Oregon (Ohio)

When I worked at the Toledo Blade more than 30 years ago, I had to go to Oregon, Ohio — a T-town suburb — once or twice.  Frankly, I don’t remember much about the place.

Some people in that town, though, had a good idea after Ohio State’s victory over Alabama set up an Ohio State-Oregon national championship game.  They collected signatures of residents who wanted to show support for the Buckeyes by changing the town’s name for the day of the game, and their idea garnered a fair amount of national attention — more national attention, in fact, than Oregon, Ohio has received since, well, ever.  At first the Mayor evidently nixed the idea, but then he came around.  Unfortunately, the new name that somebody came up with was “Oregon, Ohio:  Buckeyes on the Bay, City of Duck Hunters.”

Uh, what?  If you wanted to come up with a better example of a city name selected by some kind of mealy-mouthed committee compromise political process, you’d be hard-pressed to top that supremely lame effort.  A prudent rule of thumb is that any city name that requires a colon and a comma per se sucks.  It’s supposed to be the name of a town, not the name of a law review article.

I applaud the initiative of those Ohio State fans who came up with the idea.  As for the politicians who got involved and came up with the new “name”?  Never mind.