Student Driver

Just seven months ago I made note of my car having logged 100,000 miles. And now another milestone: My 15 1/2-year-old offspring drove the old beast today. I only stomped on the invisible brake once. There was a close call on a curve in the road as a sport ute was coming the other way, but we escaped unscathed. What’s that? Oh, yes, I do believe I sprouted a few more gray hairs today.

They make me look distinguished, I’m told.  Except by my son. He just says I’m old. Punk.

I’ve heard from several parents of teenagers and pundits who claim to be experts on the subject who say many teens of a certain age show no interest in driving. Why should they, the pundits argue, when they have parental taxi services and video games occupying all of their waking moments? My son is not afflicted with this syndrome. No, he wants to drive; he craves that feeling of independence and freedom.

I can relate.

But I won’t tell him what an idiot I was at 16. It might give him ideas …



Bye-bye, Terrelle Pryor

Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel told the media that Terrelle Pryor and the other junior players caught selling stuff against NCAA rules had to pledge to return next season despite facing suspension for the first five games next year, or they would not play in the Sugar Bowl next week.

I wish he hadn’t done that.

Jim Tressel made his players pledge to play next fall. We wish he hadn't.

I wish Tressel would cut the strings and let him go. Terrelle Pryor has worn out his welcome. If this was the first screw-up, that would be one thing. But it’s not.

On a Tressel team that supposedly is disciplined and doesn’t make waves, Pryor makes waves. He badmouths the Ohio State offensive scheme. He tweets that he was cheated out of Big Ten accolades.

His teammate, Tyler Moeller, said when Pryor arrived in Columbus as the hot-shot top recruit out of Jeannette, Pa., he was ”kind of a punk.”

He called Kirk Herbstreit, the former OSU quarterback and generally highly regarded ESPN analyst, a “fake Buckeye” – whatever the hell that is, in response to some criticism of his behavior:

“For me personally, I don’t know Terrelle Pryor as an individual, just watching him grow as a player on and off the field, I think all of us have said he has grown on the field. My problem has always been on his actions off the field, on the sidelines, kicking water bottles, frustrated, disgusted, just not being a great leader.”

There’s more, but you get the point (You do get the point, don’t you?). Great athlete. Could be a better quarterback, a better leader. May still be. But he needs to grow up. And he needs a new scene. The scene has grown toxic in Columbus, which will happen when you have a strong-willed athlete acting up in a fishbowl like Columbus. Columbus is a company town and the company is The Ohio State University. Everybody, it seems, has a vested interest in Ohio State and everyone is an expert. That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone who’s 18, 19, 21. Some handle it better than others.

Seven years ago another Buckeye star imploded before our eyes. Maurice Clarett ended up in prison before he finally woke up to reality. Sometimes you want to grab these guys by the ear, give ’em a good shake and tell ’em, “Shut up already and do what you’re told by the coach, for Christ’s sake!” Instead they listen to sycophants who tell them how great they are and they don’t need some sweater-vest guy telling them what’s good for them.

Pryor’s offenses don’t come anywhere near the level of deserving incarceration and I hope it never comes to anything that dire. But he’s burned too many bridges in Columbus.

Coach, for everyone’s good, don’t hold Terrelle to that pledge. He needs a change of scenery.

And so do we.

Oh, boy. More snow

Yes, I can hardly contain my excitement. And by excitement I mean dread.

Having dug out of a foot of snow earlier this week and then watching with amusement/bemusement as Cleveland – only 35 miles to the north – froze over with 10 inches of snow and five-hour commutes from downtown, we now face the prospect of another winter dump. And it’s only Dec. 10! The crayon drawing (left) illustrates the powerful jet stream bringing an arctic blast deep into the South this weekend.

I know what you’re thinking. Gee, what’s all this talk about global warming if it’s snowing an unseasonably high amount this early in the winter?

Curiously, the “lake-effect” snow is caused by warm water. Meteorologists tell us that when an arctic wind blows over open (and relatively warm) water, it picks up that moisture and if the air is cold enough deposits it further downwind in the form of snow, sometimes in prolific amounts.

When the lake freezes over, the lake-effect engine shuts down.

Accuweather reported last February (2010) that Lake Erie had frozen over for the first time in 14 years. That’s a long time to go without freezing over. The Plain Dealer reported in in 2007 that Lake Erie has been on a 30-year warming trend.

We had a warmer-than-normal September and October this year, so  the water temperature is probably above normal for this time of year as well (NOAA reports water temp off Cleveland is 38 degrees).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) produced a report in 2009, which stated:  “More than 300 scientists from 160 research groups in 48 countries contributed to the report, which confirms that the past decade was the warmest on record and that the Earth has been growing warmer over the last 50 years.” I’ve not found NOAA to be a panic-prone “sky is falling” kind of outfit. Pretty much sticks to the facts. Small-craft advisories, tornado warnings, etc. So when they say the climate is on a warming trend, they’re probably right.

This doesn’t mean it doesn’t get cold, or that you won’t have snow storms, blizzards and deep freezes. There will be droughts, wet spells, hurricanes and tornadoes. Those things all still happen. In fact, volatile weather may trigger more extremes. But the average temps over time are trending higher.

Icicles? Global warming? What does it all mean? We're doomed. Doomed.

Funny thing about lake effect snow is the longer the lake stays unfrozen, the more water evaporates from the surface. Lake Erie is a relatively shallow lake spread over quite a bit of square mileage. Freezing helps prevent (or at least slow down) evaporation. But those arctic winds act like a blow dryer (set on cool) on an unfrozen surface, slurping moisture off the surface and carrying it away. Which also has climatologists, ecologists, geologists and hydrologists and just about any other gists you can think of worried. Let’s save that doomsday scenario for another day.