Floofcation

Floofcation (catfinition) – 1) time spent with a cat, as cats are noted for their loving natures, and having them as companions often help people relax; 2) time spent away from a cat, as cats can drive people raving mad with their mid-darkness antics of galloping around the house and breaking things (sometimes with apparently deliberate malice).

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Last Night’s Game

Last night’s professional football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals epitomizes my frustration with the sport.

First, let me tell you. I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. I became a Steeler fan around nineteen sixty-nine, when I was thirteen. That wasn’t a good year for the Steelers. They finished with one win, and thirteen losses. Things began picking up the next year.

Second, about ten years ago, I began thinking that football has become way too violent. I tried watching less of the sport. I marvel at the players’ speed, grace, and athleticism, and enjoy the multiple levels of tactics and strategy continuing throughout a game even as I rue the violence. I’ve thought, like others, what is the solution to reduce the violence, especially the flagrant fouls, and the head injuries?

Last weekend featured a couple of them. Gronk of the Patriots was suspended for his hit. Other suspensions and fines are being issue. But how much do these mean to these players? Yes, they recognize that they’ve let their team down when they’re suspended, and that it could affect winning records, contracts, sponsorship deals, and championships, with all the collateral associated with a season, like home-field advantages, pride, rings, and trophies, but these same players are pushed to be aggressive and competitive. They’re amped up on adrenaline. To expect them to stop instantly, in the middle of motion, when the whistle blows — and is heard — and tamper their emotions is not always realistic.

Especially so in a game like last night, between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Their games have been especially tough and violent for several years. Memories of results and actions linger, affecting how the two teams feel about each other, and how they play one another. The game last night featured penalties, marked off in yards and loss of downs. Quoting Kevin Siefert on ESPN:

The game was also reminiscent of the playoff game due to the high number of penalties. The Bengals set a franchise record with 13 penalties for 173 yards. The two teams have combined for 1,088 penalty yards in their matchups against each other, including playoffs, since the 2015 season. Their 32 major penalties, such as unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct, in the same time span is nearly twice as much as any other matchup in the same period.

Wow, right? Yet, it keeps escalating. These penalties and suspensions aren’t working. Maybe something more concrete is required, like a loss of points instead of yards, or a loss of downs. Yes, flags can be thrown, and players ejected, but perhaps it’s not enough. Maybe a flag is required to warn them, one more personal foul, and you forfeit the game.

Too extreme? Perhaps, but that’s what the NFL is all about: winning and losing. Until something tangible is done to immediately affect that line, the escalations will continue.

Sock

You ever start to put your socks on, and notice a hole just starting in the toe of one? But you decide to put it on anyway, because it’s just a little hole. And then, you feel the hole enlarging as you go through the day, until you feel your toe pop through it, so now the sock hole is strangling your toe, and you rue your decision?

Really?

Tuesday’s Theme Music

Awoke this morning thinking of spectrums and roller-coasters. We live on a spectrum, hunting for the balance to ride the waves of the day. Those waves often acquire a roller-coaster feel as we rise up from the troughs, reach the peaks, and plummet down again, hanging on with white-knuckled glee or terror. They’re pretty closely related.

From that, my switches shifted. Cake streamed in. I particularly enjoyed their third album, “Prolonging the Magic”. Thinking about the lyrics from “Never There,” I saw the connection between my maundering about roller coaster, and Cake:

We’re always on,
This roller coaster,
If you want me,
Why can’t you get closer?

That’s it: we’re always on this roller-coaster. This era of corporate growth, reactionary politics, and fake news, seems to be worse than other periods. But, I remind myself, this is the only period I remember living through. I suspect other eras felt the same for people of my relative status. They, like me, hope, lament, curse, and pray, and sometimes, we just close our eyes and ears, and try to walk away. But that roller-coaster doesn’t stop.

Here it is, from nineteen ninety-eight, “Never There.” Hope you have a fun ride today.

No Fun Places

My beautiful little sister – you know, the grandmother and great-grandmother – has her birthday today. Happy birthday, little sister! Naturally, I stream all manner of memories from the time around her birth. One bright, shiny moment was after she was brought home. We lived on McNary Boulevard in Wilkinsburg, PA, then. All my young neighborhood friends wanted to come into the house to see the baby. I don’t know what drove them to want to see her, but Mom obliged, you know, as long as we didn’t wake her. Let sleeping babies lie.

For her special day, my little sister – let’s call her Gina – wants to go to a restaurant where they get to spin the wheel. As I understand it, you spin the wheel, and you win gifts, or free food and drinks. Everyone else in the family did it for their birthday. Gina wants to do it, too. I understand; even I would like to spin the wheel. Alas, though, Ashland doesn’t have a place to spin the wheel.

Ashland doesn’t have fun restaurants like that. Dominated by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and numerous art galleries, we’re very serious about food, here. We can blame demographics. Professionals dominate our permanent population. We have the theater scene, a forensics lab, university, and grade, middle, and high schools. They, and the city and the restaurants, create the job market, along with professionals to serve the professionals, like lawyers, architects, hair-stylists, and landscapers.

Most of our professionals are retired, with adult children. Food leans toward conservative, adult offerings, with interesting preparation and presentations. Pizza and pub-grub are offered as alternatives. The food is organic and natural, with meat from grass-fed, antibiotic-free animals. Vegetarian offerings are salads, black-bean burgers, or meals fixed with tofu substitutes. Vegan offerings are weak. The pub-grub is served with a helping of television screens to watch sports. We do have terrific breweries and wineries, and chocolatiers. You can drink and have fun, but that’s a pretty limited spectrum.

We also lack a good deli. The delis are embedded in the chain groceries – Safeway, Albertson’s, and Market of Choice. There’s no stand-alone deli to go in and have a sandwich made your way. Two Subways, one Wendy’s, and one Taco Bell represent our fast-food places. There is a Burger King on the Interstate exit, but that’s outside of town. That’s how serious Ashland is about food.

Even our coffee places are serious. Two Starbucks represent the mass consumer trends, but we tend toward places that roast their beans locally, or buy from someone who roasts their beans locally.

Here’s the┬átricky part. Our retired professionals have grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They come to visit. Likewise, the theater-goers have children, and more people are moving up from California. These Caligonians have friends who visit, with their children. The thing is, children come. When they do, the most fun is the ice-cream shops, or pizzas. There’s no place to spin the wheel.

Yes, you can mark this up to demographics. Personally, I put it down as lack of imagination. One pub-grub place closes, another one opens in its place. Ditto, with the froo-froo eateries.

So you if you want a hormone-free, grass-fed burger, or an excellent omelet, beer, or wine, we’re your place. Just don’t expect to spin the wheel.

 

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