Wednesday, February 28, 2007

RECENT NEWS FROM OAKLAND, CA—

Coalition wants county declared sanctuary for illegal immigrants

REDWOOD CITY — Nearly three weeks after a round of federal immigration raids that have unnerved Redwood City's large Latino community, a dozen immigration advocacy groups have banded together to form a coalition whose aim is to convert Redwood City and San Mateo County into a safe haven for illegal immigrants...

...The hope, said a local activist, is that local officials will ultimately sign a measure denouncing the recent sweeps by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — and declare the county and the city "sanctuaries" for illegal immigrants.

Wow! Right here is the solution to Ohio’s problem with overcrowded prisons.

Let’s just bundle the whole population of our imprisoned, recidivistic miscreants and ship them to the Bay Area where they would be welcomed and we would be rid of a very expensive problem.


Don’tcha just love those California liberals.

Tomorrow Fogeyisms will take a whack at Gore and Cheney. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

MY HYPOTHESIS--

Today’s standard of excellence is mediocrity.

(Note: This posting introduces a new segment on the blog. In recent years I have observed a decline in the quality of many products, services, and performance in general. Postings under this title from time to time will explore this hypothesis. The following is but a very ordinary example.)

I ate at a local Arby’s recently and ordered a beef and cheddar combo. The sandwich came garnished with un-ordered, chewy bacon. There was more cheese on the paper wrapper than on the beef. The sauce covered one third of the meat. The sandwich was warm--sort of.

Now, I ask you, how hard is it to deliver a correct, properly heated and neatly garnished fast food order?

My mediocre treatment certainly was not the result of their being busy. There was only one other couple eating in the place at that lunchtime.

Maybe I now know why.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


SOMEHOW
THIS ISN’T FAIR--

In this picture

The white Snow should be Sand,

And,

The green Pines should be Palms.

Amen.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


MY MAIN CRITTER—

In a recent blog comment Cousin Bill in FL requested a portrait of Max with my new camera. This is my first effort.

Lady friend Ruthie was sitting at the counter attracting Max’s attention with his favorite biscuits while I steadied the camera on her shoulder and squeezed off this shot. The main light is from a hanging lamp over the counter with some residual window light accounting for the cooler highlights around his head.

For you techies I had to boost the ISO rating to the camera’s maximum of 1600 to achieve the proper exposure with a modest shutter speed.

In a film camera pushing the film’s sensitivity causes an increase in apparent grain. The digital equivalent of grain is “noise” but it is quite tolerable in this image.

I think this camera is going to be a keeper.
THIS WEEK—

I watched a squadron of blue jays frolicking high in the Scotch pine woods.

Maybe they were warming themselves flitting among the treetops. After all, it is closer to the sun up there. (Do you see my tongue in my cheek?)

More likely, it could have been some early evidence of their spring’s hormonal re-awakening.

Friday, February 23, 2007


LATE WINTER RITUAL—

Wednesday, the Wood Duck box got its spring house cleaning. We are in a prolonged warming period and this project is best accomplished while it is safe to walk on the pond’s ice.

Waiting for the ice to thaw and doing this task by boat often brings us perilously close to the Woody’s breeding season.

I started at Reeder’s Lumber yard in Butler where they graciously gave me a grocery bag full of wood shavings.

Then it was a trek across the lagoon inlet to the box which is located on a post along the east shore of the pond. Surprisingly, several inches of watery slush already exist under the pond’s snow covered ice.

Half of the wood bottom of the box is hinged so removing one screw allows that to drop. I can then reach into the 4” entry hole near the top of the box and scrape out the old shavings; replacing that debris with about five inches of fresh bedding which Momma Woody will arrange and supplement to suit her fancy.

Now is a good time to similarly clean out any bird nesting boxes you may have. Old nesting material combines with feathers, egg shells and other detritus to make a damp and unhealthy box interior.

Your feathered friends will appreciate your effort and likely reward you with a family of hatchlings in just a few months.
FLIGHT ARRIVALS—

February 22nd the first Red Winged Blackbirds of the season arrived; one of our first avian harbingers of spring. They will be with us until their fall migration southward. Their breeding range extends as far north as the Yukon Territory of Canada. Birds inclined to travel that far will arrive there about the first of May.
BOOK REPORT—

Night Fall by Nelson DeMille


TWA flight 800 exploded on take-off from NY killing more than 200 folks aboard. It was officially ruled an accident by federal authorities. This gripping yarn leads to a vastly different conclusion before it, too, makes one final, stunning twist. Another page turner. Thanks again to Becky Makdad for my introduction to DeMille.
WEATHER NOTES—

Since more normal conditions appear to be returning “Weather Notes” will be resting for awhile. It will re-emerge anytime local climatic events become noteworthy.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

DRYER VENT MAINTENANCE—

A local acquaintance recently suffered a very damaging home fire caused by a lint-filled and overheating dryer vent. That news got my attention.

The fix likely is quite simple—as mine was. I was able to slide my washer and dryer out from the wall and thread my lanky and aging bones over the appliances, under the upper, wall cabinets and collapse myself into a working position.

My installation had a “U” shaped piece of flexible, metal dryer vent pipe connecting the dryer’s vent outlet to the vent pipe that went through my floor and on outside. Loosening the screws popped the pipe clamps open and I removed the “U”.

Actually, it was surprisingly clean after 6 to 8 years of inattention. (I pay close attention to cleaning the dryer’s interior filter with each operation.) Nevertheless, I vacuumed the dryer outlet and the floor vent pipe thoroughly. While I was at it, I removed the dryer back panel and vacuumed inside there as well.

I had the good fortune of being able to reinstall the dryer vent without the “U” shaped pipe; thus eliminating a major potential for clogging in the future. On the next decent day I will remove and clean the below-floor vent pipe to further improve my peace of mind.

This is one of those out-of-sight/out-of-mind topics that can cause grief if left unattended.


End of sermon.
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 42
Last night’s low: 29


Comment: The melt continues. That’s good; very good!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


OOH LA LA--

A Canon Digital Rebel 400 XTi
Single Lens Reflex Camera


My digital photography hobby began in early 2003 with a Canon Power Shot G-3; an outstanding entry-level camera for this marvelous technology. As time went on, however, its limitations became more problematic.

The Rebel overcomes virtually all those shortcomings and it boasts a huge 10 megapixel capability. I equipped it with an 18-200 mm zoom lens. That is the 35 mm camera equivalent of a 28 to 320 mm optic—an outstanding spread of focal lengths.

By the way, the little G-3 did the honors of making this image of its new big brother.

I hope to share my growth in this technology with even more images on the blog—as soon as I struggle a reasonable distance up the new camera's learning curve.
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 45
Last night’s low: 32

Comment: I stood a bit on the upper deck yesterday and watched the snow melt; all the while suppressing strong urges to applaud.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A BACHELOR’S QUESTIONS—

Is there any way to handle plastic wrap where it will not instantly consort itself into a useless glob?

Where do you stunningly tidy housewives hide your dust?

Is it possible to operate a kitchen without a pair of pliers?

Does prepared food have to be that salty?

I make my bed everyday. Why?

What is the volume of a dab?

How do you enjoy your meal when it takes four times as long to concoct as it does to consume?

Why do my sparkling windows get embarrassingly streaky in the sun shine?

How do you know what is inside that frosty lump that just emerged from the back of the freezer?


It’s no wonder some bachelors wander around in a constant state of perplexity.
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 40
Last night’s low: 37


Comment: At last; mild seasonal temperatures. Feels downright balmy!

Monday, February 19, 2007

SPARE HEATER

WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 26
Last night’s low: 5

Comment: It got dark last night.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

THIS WEEK—

I saw one of those creatures walking through the mall with its ball cap perched jauntily askew.

Its ball cap’s bill was aimed—more or less—where it had been, not where it was going.

If I were terminally clueless I certainly would not walk around advertising that fact.


I know. I KNOW. That's why this blog is called Fogeyisms.
BOOK REPORT—

Next by Michael Crichton


An often humorous and very compelling tale regarding genetic engineering. It is a current novel using the publishing tool of supporting its legitimacy with a substantial bibliography; a device usually the province of non-fiction tomes. Crichton is always a good read.
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 28
Last night’s low: 17


Comment: A couple more inches of snow. Ho hum.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

COMMENTERRY—

Fixing Social Security

The Social Security program has many flaws, including it could be spent into bankruptcy by Washington’s elected and civil service apparatchiks.

Meanwhile the congress critters all loaf into retirement with a truly golden parachute of their own; taxpayer funded of course.

Here’s how to fix Social Security: amputate the entire herd of good-ole-boys from their hyper-generous nest egg and put them instead on Social Security like most of the rest of the country’s working stiffs.

It is virtually guaranteed they would have Social Security fixed by the following Thursday.
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 20
Last night’s low: 6

Comment: Frequently the temperature drops a few degrees in the morning after I post my daily “Weather Notes”. If you are wagering on the accuracy of this particular fact, please consult a more legitimate, weather authority.

Friday, February 16, 2007


MY MAIN CRITTER SAYS--

The storm is past.
The sun is shining.

All is right with the world once again.

Max
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 21
Last night’s low: 4

Comment: Local muskrats are beginning to take on the appearance of dwarf arctic seals.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

THE BLOG’S ANNIVERSARY--

Today marks the beginning of the second month for the blog. What a marvelous experience it has been! It is fun to produce and particularly rewarding when I hear folks are enjoying its general irreverence.

Here are some samples of comments I’ve really treasured:

Doneen in Harlingen, TX: I LOVE IT !!!!!!!!!!!!

Denny in Atlanta, GA: Kudos, it's great...Keep up the good work.

Ron in Bellville, OH: Your blog is a delectable moment...I enjoy your musings and photography. Hopefully it will become an enduring indulgence.

Dave in Elmira. NY: I did go to your blogspot at 5:30 this morning and found a very calm, relaxing, warm and friendly place...I hope its existence becomes well-circulated.

Lynn in Mansfield, OH: ...my favorite morning reading material...

Bob in Dade City, FL: ...your pictures are to be relished. I am very lucky to be one of those that are able to enjoy your work.

Gary in Bellville: Cool !!!

Norrie, neighbor: Keep musing, you are our muse.

RB in Yuma, AZ: I BET YOU GOT ALL A'S IN SCHOOL

Pat in Bellville: ...its 5:30 am and no blog for me to read??

My appreciation is boundless and, sorry Pat. I’m getting up too early in the morning as it is.

ADDENDUM—

My late bride’s cousins Brad and Karen Crownover just informed me they read the blog to Brad’s dad, Obie, every Sunday. I have fond memories of my family buying a black and white TV from Obie when he was a co-owner of Mansfield Radio and TV—way back when? And, countless celebrations—of something, anything—with his delightfully riotous and late wife Barb.

Hi Uncle Obie! You may just be the patriarch of the blog’s readership. I hope life is treating you well. --tw
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 21
Last night’s low: -5


Comment: Had driveway plowed. Felt like I got paroled.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

MAX ABORTS MORNING HIKE
We started to walk across the dam to our road during the tail end of this storm and about a foot of somewhat drifted snow caused Max to reconsider the folly of our daily ritual. That's the Jon boat resting on the face of the dam to the left.
MY CONCEALED HANDGUN LICENSES—

Yesterday’s Headlines:

Gunman Kills 5 in Utah Shopping Mall
4 Dead in Philadelphia Business Meeting Shooting

These headlines are but recent examples of why I choose to go through everyday life armed.

A violent attack can occur any place at any time.

I regret it is necessary but I refuse to be a defenseless victim.


I refuse to stare at life through rose-colored glasses and delude myself with the fiction it always happens to someone else.

I value my life and that of my usually defenseless companions.

You may make your own choice regarding your, your family’s and your friends’ daily safety.

Thank you for respecting mine.
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 23 then fell throughout the day.
Last night’s low: 14


Comment: Storm snowfall reveals an average measurement of 7 inches which is atop the previous 3 inches for a total on the ground of approximately 10 inches; a surprisingly small quantity for the 24 hour snow event. Light snow continues to fall but radar reveals the storm is now well east of Ohio.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A CRITTER NOTE--

In addition to keeping the bird feeders full another challenge of our arctic weather is drinking water for our feathered and furry friends.

I check the creeks daily and they are now mostly frozen, except, here and there, where the current is swiftest and some flowing riffles remain. The critter tracks around those openings are countless.

Recently I watched a constant stream of flight arrivals and departures from one of the openings—robins and chickadees and titmice; like a variety of Boeings around a busy airport.


They established holding patterns in the branches of the under-canopy, dropping to their final approach positions in the multi-flora bush that protects their liquid airport. Departing bird flights made room for other landings.

Further downstream a trail of critter tracks from the passing deer and rabbits left evidence of their use of the creek for a refueling oasis.

Somehow it is nice to be reminded they all can survive quite well without me.
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 35
Last night’s low: 23


Comment: The winter’s nastiest storm is likely today and tomorrow with the forecast calling for as much as a foot of new snow with increasing winds and falling temps. Now, where did I put my bus ticket to Yuma?

Monday, February 12, 2007

HUGE STORM--

Here is a National Weather Service satellite water vapor view of the storm poised to dump a bunch of snow on Northern Ohio. In this image at approximately 9 p.m. EST Monday, the low pressure area is centered near the Missouri/Arkansas border. Our forecast is calling for about a foot of snow across the top of the state from early Tuesday morning through early Wednesday morning.

Oswego, I suspect, would regard this as a mere nuisance.
COMMENTERRY—

Scientific achievement and Anna Nicole who?

A tip of the hat to scientists from Norway for planning an arctic vault designed to insure the preservation of the world’s seed crop in the event of some global catastrophe.

Worried also about the loss of crop diversity, scientists plan to construct a subterranean structure deep underground in the permafrost on the arctic archipelago of Svalbard, far above the flooding level that could occur with melting of the earth’s glacial ice.

The project, now in the design stage, is expected to be operational late in 2008.

This news comes from a recent on-line article in Science Daily.

Meanwhile, news featured on our more pedestrian sources continues its incessant blab about the unfortunate death of this woman named Smith of vastly questionable achievement with a propensity to spawn offspring of equally questionable parentage—the first father said to be a 16 year-old fry cook and the second in doubt among some foreign prince, her sometimes lawyer and assorted boyfriends.

With respect to the decedent, may we refocus on events more worthy of mankind’s contemplation?
BOOK REPORT—

The Charm School by Nelson DeMille

792 pages of riveting tale about Russian espionage post glasnost; critically described as “one of the most chilling Cold War novels ever written...” I second that opinion and thank Cousin Becky for the tip on this smashing read!
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 25
Last night’s low: 22
Comment: When I read about 9 feet of snow in Oswego--
I quit complaining.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


FROM THE ARCHIVES--
Think Spring!
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 19
Last night’s low: 3

Comment: Cannot recall the last time our temperatures were above freezing.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

THIS WEEK—

I saw a couple dining at Fazio’s. Together, they would challenge the weight capacity of a freight elevator.

Their tailor could do waist measurements with a tape—graduated in yards.

You guessed it. The heap of steaming pasta on their table would have fed the local scout troop—with leftovers galore.


(Correct to read Fazoli's. ed.)
COMMENTERRY—

"Wrestling tops TV Ratings"


A recent news story said the rankings for the top 15 TV programs on cable networks one recent January week were led by “WWE Raw”; a wrestling show.

Another TV offering high in the ratings that week went to a thing called “SpongeBob Square Pants” on Nickelodeon.


Isn’t Nickelodeon a juvenile network? There certainly, then, must have been an awful lot of pre-pubescent adult votes reflected in these results.

Or, worse yet, must we conclude this is somehow a valid measure of society’s current level of intellectual or, even entertainment appetite?

Heaven help us.
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 23
Last night’s low: 1
Comment: The daytime sunshine has been nice.

Friday, February 9, 2007

OLD HS YEARBOOK—

While perusing the secure, historical books section of our library recently I found a yearbook for Mansfield Senior High School, 1958. I spent my pre-high school years with many of the graduates pictured, but, my family moved to the suburbs where I was later graduated from Madison HS, also in 1958.

Consequently I had not seen these pictures or these people in nearly 50 years. I was astounded to note how much these folks had matured in the years between the 8th and 9th grades when I last saw them and the time of their senior pictures. Imagine what they must look like today.

What a trip back in time! I could remember a childhood of playing “Captain Video” at Dave’s house after school back then. And cub scout meetings at Dick’s house down on 6th St., with that really cute little gal Nancy next door. And Brenda with the pigtails who lived in the alley that went north from Sheridan Ave.

Then I was graduated and went in the service, got married and raised a family and worked, then retired; and those 50 years were--gone.

Yes, it does indeed seem those years have passed that quickly.

Now, I look in the mirror and wonder who that old timer is who is staring back at me.
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 19
Last night’s low: 0


Comment: I wish the Canadians would keep their weather in Canada.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


WHAT IN THE HECK—


According to the folks at
www.whatsthatbug.com:

“This is a Western Conifer Seed Bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis. It is native to the Pacific Northwest, but has migrated east over the last century. They often enter homes in the fall. We have decided to make this our featured Bug of the Month for December” (see their website).

The other evening I found this critter perched on my apple. After doing the photo I coaxed him onto a napkin—and put the apple in the refrigerator; washed of course. By morning he had migrated to the back of a soap dispenser.

But, enough is enough. I coaxed him back onto the napkin and deposited him on a sun-warmed evergreen shrub outside. That gave him an entire day to find another place to spend the rest of his winter.

No Leptoglossus house guests for me please!
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 20

Last night’s low: 0
Conditions: Getting tiresome.

It really is pathetic when we northerners get excited to note a daytime high temperature of 20.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


THE CONSTELLATION ORION—

Most astronomy buffs agree Orion is the most handsome constellation in the sky. On winter evenings it dominates our celestial view; located high overhead to the south during prime viewing hours.

In the middle of the graphic at right the three stars of the constellation’s belt are shown and they are the easiest way to identify Orion. Any evening this month, face south and look around about 45 degrees above the horizon. (Southerly viewers will have to look a bit higher in their sky.)

From dark until hours after midnight Orion will journey slowly from east to west across your viewing area; a distance of 15 degrees every hour to be exact.

The brightest star in the constellation is Betelgeuse (say Beatle-Juice) Orion’s right shoulder. The second brightest is Rigel, his left foot. The fuzzy blob you see hanging below his belt is our hunter’s “knife” and contains the Orion nebulae.

By the way, while exploring this dandy sight, visually extend a line running through his belt’s three stars toward the southeast and you will soon come to the brightest star in our entire sky; Sirius. It’s in the neighboring constellation Canis Major.

Orion’s stars are part of the total of about 3,000 stars visible to the naked eye from Earth. All are located in our home, Milky Way Galaxy, but they vary widely in their relative distances from us. In fact, this star complex is over 1,000 light-years deep.

But, such mind-staggering concepts of distance should not trouble your enjoyment of this celestial delight.
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 11
Last night’s low: 4
Conditions: Another inch of snow.

Got this note from my buddy RB in Arizona last night:

“OLD INDIAN SAID-WHEN YOU HAVE THE WAY TO CHANGE, GET ON YOUR HORSE AND PACK UP YOUR TEEPEE
AND GO WhERE THE GRASS IS TALLER AND YOU AIN'T COLD.

TEMP-- AT 16:00 hrs. 80 degRees & GOING UP

OLD INDIAN-
YUMA”

Sometimes his wisdom astounds me. --tw

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

THE CcccOLD CONTINUES—

As I slid a sweat shirt over my not-toasty enough flannel shirt this morning, I peeked through the closed drapes and watched the birds enjoy dawn’s arrival.


The thermometer is reading 11 degrees on the wrong side of zero out there while I have the human comfort of a heated nest with its own sunflower feeder—so to speak. We call it a kitchen.

They don’t seem to mind the frigid stuff.

They frolic to and fro, each about an ounce or so of hungry energy taking care of their breakfast business.

The only evidence they feel the brutal cold is that cardinal over there on the pine branch with its feathers fluffed more than double its girth—its version of a down-filled parka.

He’s probably their old fogy.
WEATHER NOTES—

Yesterday’s high: 10
Last night’s low: -11
Conditions: Still chilly.

Because of the cold, Monday’s Schools and Things Closed List included the Butler Meals on Wheels Program. That group feeds senior citizens down there who have trouble doing it for themselves.

Glad I don’t depend on them for my daily 3-squares!

Monday, February 5, 2007

COLD--

Finally, about noon today, the temperature struggled its way above 5 degrees and Max and I took our first hike since sometime Saturday. The snow crunched groaning complaints as we trudged slowly up and down the trails and through the woods.

When we got out east toward the road we left the protection of the naked trees and the cold breeze made its most serious attack. The onset of numbness was almost a pleasant pain as the skin stiffened and loss of feeling dug toward the bones.

I had to cover my face with gloved hands and walk backwards. The pond’s ice snapped an occasional crack! as it fought to expand its polar grip on the water’s surface.

We headed back up the driveway, I with my shoulders hunched, and trying to enjoy the bright sun’s harsh visual treatment as it glanced sparkles off the fresh snow.

Yet, already I could feel a hint of warmth as the annual, solar migration tries to nudge springtime toward our now-frozen hemisphere.

Meanwhile, Max proclaimed his territorial sovereignty and peed on a weed.
PET PEEVE—

Tailgaters; the dangerous driving variety.

You know; you are legally rolling along in highway traffic and the creep behind you is so close you cannot even see its headlights in your rear view mirror.

At best, these cretins are intellectually challenged. They take a huge risk with no potential reward. Even a retarded gambler does not do that.

Worse, they put our lives in danger.

Imagine having a blowout at that instant, or a steering failure or needing to make an emergency stop.

Splat! We likely will be creamed by this idiot.

Even without the wreck tailgating is an act of assault—with a very deadly weapon.

That’s usually a felony and should be treated as such whenever it occurs!

Maybe putting a bounty on these brainless Neanderthals is an even better idea.
WEATHER DATA—
Yesterday’s high: 9
Last night’s low: -4
Conditions: Chilly

Sunday, February 4, 2007

BOOK REPORT—

On the Water, by Nathaniel Stone

Excellent word craft and an even better story of rowing a boat up the Hudson River to Albany, the Erie Canal to Lake Erie, a short portage then rivers like the Allegheny, Ohio and Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. Then, a few million oar strokes more to Key West and, back to the start in NY City’s harbor. Finally, the epilogue; a rowing jaunt out Long Island Sound, and around Cape Cod to that end of the continental US at Eastport, Maine. A truly enthralling read. Bravo!

PROJECT FEEDER WATCH—

Each winter I participate in this bird counting effort for the ornithologists at Cornell University. We record and report both the total quantity and different species of birds seen at the feeders over two days on alternate weekends.

My supply of both birds and species usually is abundant. This report, for example, I saw 17 different species. Imagine that. And, the greatest quantity of any one species seen at one time was Cardinals; 20 of them!

Less common birds appearing in my count this time include: white throated sparrows, flickers, and Carolina wrens; of which it is not uncommon to see only one each during the count periods.

Over 30,000 of us (“citizen scientists” we are called) across the US participate and our raw data are crunched by the real scientists who keep a watchful eye on population trends, range expansions or contractions, and bird health for examples.

We pay close attention for evidence of conjunctivitis; an eye disease that is hurting the house finches and has spread to the goldfinches.

It’s a nice way to endure winter’s bluster while making a helpful contribution to the scholarly study of our feathered friends.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

THE DAWN'S SKY--

At 5 a.m. today the temperature was minus 2.2 degrees and last night’s full moon conspired with the snow covered ground to imitate dawn.

In the east-southeast sky about 20 degrees above the horizon a solitary bright star dominates the view.

That bright “star” actually is the planet Jupiter; our nearest giant neighbor in the solar system. The word “giant” is fitting. Next to the sun it is the largest object in our celestial vicinity with a diameter of over 88,000 miles. The earth’s diameter is a relatively puny 8,000 miles--give or take a few--by comparison.

When you are looking at Jupiter you can be proud of your stunning eyesight. You are seeing an object that is about 400 million miles away. On the next clear morning, take a peek with your binoculars. You will be able to see three or four (usually) of Jupiter’s many moons. Make a sketch of what you see. When you look again a day or so later, they will be in different positions—because they are orbiting their planet. That’s how you can prove they are moons and not background stars.

Ahhh; many visual rewards are available to us when we simply take a look.

Friday, February 2, 2007

COMMENTERRY

Panic in Boston

In yesterday’s headlines, this: “Terror Scare Brings Boston to Standstill”. I can picture hizzhonor the mayor screaming from under his desk, “Call out the national guard...I want the municipal hockey rink defended by tanks. RIGHT NOW!”

Meanwhile, the freeways screech to a standstill while the local constabulary whizzes to and fro in a panicked search for the electronic culprits reported to be invading their town. Bomb squads were deployed with more than 500 thousand bucks worth of public protection hurled at the onslaught.

Turns out the “invasion” was 38 quirky, battery powered signs promoting a cartoon show on some children’s TV network.

Also turns out similar “invasions” had occurred in 10 other major US cities over the past several weeks with nary a public utterance.

As the Boston panic slowly subsided, the local persecutor up there was heard muttering, “We’ll pull out all stops to punish this reckless, irresponsible and illegal behavior.”

Attaway Beantown. You tell ‘em!


Meanwhile, adult municipal officials elsewhere were seen chuckling discretely at the reactionary silliness of their eastern contemporaries.

NEW SNOW—

A winter sun’s reflection ricochets off the water surface and the banks of the pond’s outlet stream are powdered with six inches of fresh snow.
Winter has finally arrived in north central Ohio.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

COMMENTERRY—

Our Hardware Store

Karen and Chuck and Brad and John, and other fine folks as well, work in our hardware store. And, when I walk in they all say something like, “Hi Terry, how can I help you?” And, 99 percent of the time they can.

There must be about 17 bazillion items in the store. If what you need isn’t there it will be on Thursday’s delivery truck. Need advice on how to fix your widget? Chances are good they can help with that too.

Once I needed only one electrical insulator. They only sold them by the bag full. Molly said, “I have some at home and will be there for lunch. Check my mail box this afternoon.” I did. Sure enough; problem solved.

Another time, my bride’s favorite recliner was poking her where she sat. A spring connection was broke. They scrounged around and found a substitute part. Cost, 15 cents. They ragged on me for my “huge” purchase; with a huge smile and a “thank you” for my business.

Now, a ponderous box store is a few miles up the road. A challenge I am sure. I hope my town will not squander the healthy future of our hardware by chasing the myth of bargain shopping at that indifferent retail giant.

Our hardware is a slice of Americana and it is right there on our town’s Main St., straight across from the village green. May it ever be so!


Norman Rockwell would smile.