Sunday, September 30, 2007


I have absolutely no idea how many people may read my blog. But, the following folks have shared with me they enjoy the blog on a daily or regular basis.

You are the audience I envision when I am constructing and publishing my daily items.

Thank you for being loyal participants in this marvelous hobby of mine.

And please take a bow. Naturally, you all share the common trait of impeccably good taste in casual entertainment!

In the order of confessing your reading habits to me:

--Brian and Kate; oldest son, Mansfield area contractor; Kate teacher's aide, Lexington.
--Craig; next oldest son, disability retired, Chicago.
--Bob; cousin, semi-retired and research librarian, Altoona, PA public library.
--Brad and Karen; Brad, retired from Westinghouse; Karen retired teacher, Lakeside OH.
--Denny, my late bride’s oldest brother, market research, Atlanta.
--Sherri, Denny’s lady friend.
--Kevin, my late bride’s youngest brother, electrical sales, Mansfield.
--Bill, cousin, retired electrical engineer, Boca Raton, FL.
--Doneen, high school classmate (HSC), retired teacher, Harlingen, TX.
--Ramsey, HSC, retired, Ohio Air National Guard, Yuma, AZ.
--Bob, retired, Ohio Air National Guard, Bellville.
--Lynn, retired nurse, bicyclist friend, Mansfield.
--Bob, US Coast Guard friend, Macedonia, OH and FL snow bird.
--Ron and Karen; Ron, heavy equipment installation; Karen, retail, Bellville.
--Dave, auto racing public relations pro, Elmira, NY.
--Norrie and Jan; Norrie, retired architect; Jan, retired surgical nurse, neighbors.
--Nancy, HSC, investment counselor, Mansfield.
--Harold, retired, photography retail, Ohio’s “Mr. Bicycle”, Lexington.
--Bob, HSC, retired, real estate, Mansfield.
--Dennis, cousin, retired, state meat inspector, Mansfield.
--Bill, mortuary assistant, Shelby, OH.
--Dick, retired skilled trades, Ormond Beach, FL.
--Brittany, grand daughter, student, OSU, Columbus.
--Ted, cycling friend, retired federal law enforcement, Gainesville, FL.

If you are a regular reader and have been lurking out there without confessing your presence, please let me know. Your joining our Honor Roll will be a terrific addition.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


One of Ohio’s nearly 20 varieties of goldenrod basks in the early morning sunshine on an early day of fall while a teasel is draped with a spider web’s embroidery.

By the way, many people believe goldenrods cause hay fever. They are unfairly blamed because their flowers bloom at the same time as the less conspicuous ragweed—which is really the culprit that causes the itching and sneezing.

Goldenrod pollen is too heavy to be carried by the wind. It is carried by insects that pollinate the flowers and is not wasted on the wind or allergy sufferers.

Teasel is commonly mistaken for thistle.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I want to pull my hair!

On a recent morning’s web news I read stories that must have been written by people who do not have English as their primary language, or, it is more support for my general hypothesis; “Mediocrity is today’s standard of excellence.”

The first one from MSNBC Travel News told me about fly fishing around the globe including the Bahamas with locations containing lots of “...small islands and cays...” Folks, cays are small islands.

Then on the Columbus TV 4 website I read about a person dying after being electrocuted. Folks, that is the definition of electrocute; “To kill by electricity.”

Recently, I was lunching at a local pub and couldn’t avoid the CNN TV coverage blasting away with the story of the OJ Simpson arrest that day. The scrolling panels at the bottom of the screen alternated use of the words “robbery” and “burglary” as if they were synonymous.

They most assuredly are not.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly do not hold myself up as a linguistic expert. But, I did study journalism in college and in those days of focused, intellectual curiosity correct use of the language was taught as a noble, everyday goal for professional journalists.

Today, I wonder if they even teach these bozos how to spell.

Thursday, September 27, 2007



Peru is located on the northwest coast of South America between Ecuador and Chile. It is in the bottom center of the graphic to the right.

Peru is just over 496,000 square miles in size, making it nearly 2/3 the size of Mexico and has a population of about 28 million, mostly Spanish speaking, people.

The Andes Mountains divide the country north to south, creating an arid coastal plain along the Pacific Ocean. The highest mountain in the country is over 22,000 feet in elevation. By comparison Mt. Whitney at just over 14,000 feet is the tallest peak in the lower 48 US states.

On the western side of the Andes Peru is mostly Amazon rainforest which covers nearly 60 per cent of the country’s area.

It is there Bellville’s Chimney Swifts from yesterday's post will enjoy their winter of warm tropical breezes.

GREETINGS—The gob of white on my face is a bandage covering a 1 ½ inch nick my dermatologist made to remove a small skin cancer Wednesday. All is well, and, I regard this episode as but a small gesture of consideration for the many of you I am aware with health issues of your own. Best to all, --tw
BTW Blogspot has been exceedingly slow the past few mornings. Please be patient if I fail to post in a timely fashion. I suspect they are growing beyond their capacity to serve their customers efficiently.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


First, in the early evening, you may notice a swift or two zooming, as they do, after a late snack of airborne insects.

Then, as approaching dusk paints the sky in ever darker shades of blue, one swift becomes a dozen and, they become an undulating flock flying a pattern of ever-changing geometric shapes above that chimney on Bellville’s Main St.

Their quiet twittering becomes part of the night’s symphony as they fly, seemingly faster and faster, until one, then two then many more of their near countless number disappear down the chimney.

The remaining airborne squadron explodes its shape then rejoins as if hearing their own choreography all the while contributing more and more birds to their growing roost deep in the chimney’s nocturnal protection.

Soon you notice the birds are very difficult to see as the ghostly flock thins until only silence and stillness shroud the entrance to their lair.

I had the pleasure of sharing this spectacle one recent evening with good friend Dick Stone of Bellville whose nature of deep sensitivity marveled at our very special moment.

Soon, the migratory instinct will compel these very birds to head south where they will over-winter on the Amazonian side of Peru’s Andes Mountains in South America.

Photography notes: In the larger image a slow shutter speed was used to enhance the feeling of motion and near ghost-like apparitions the birds become as darkness falls. In the smaller photo an auxiliary, electronic flash was used to freeze the birds in flight so more detail would be apparent.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


There is a radio ad playing regularly in Ohio which asserts, “Bad railroad crossings kill good drivers” then it encourages listeners to visit their web site entitled “Angels on Track” and make a donation, of course.

Regardless of how noble this outfit may be, their basic premise is wrong.

A good driver, among countless other skills, is one who has learned to “Stop, Look and Listen” when confronted with a challenging railroad crossing.

Whether a crossing has signals or barriers—or not; whether they are operating—or not, a good driver will do whatever is necessary to insure there is no train approaching before he or she attempts to cross the tracks.

A good driver in that situation assumes responsibility for their own safety.

The implication of this outfit’s slick slogan clearly attempts to shift that burden to something or someone else.

Besides, how often have you seen some ding-a-ling weaving around the crossing gates, or, simply blowing across an unguarded crossing with nary a look in either direction—and, more than likely jacking their jaw on their cell phone the entire time.

Sorry, Angels on Track. If I am moved to contribute to a cause, I will do it with an outfit that is as truthful with its assertions as it is noble in its goals.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Today’s Renaissance Theater is the area’s mecca for the performing arts. It has risen to that exalted status from a checkered past.

The Warner Management Company spent the whopping sum of $500,000 to build the theater in “the grand baroque style” in 1927. Classic films such as The Wizard of Oz and Casablanca had their Mansfield debuts there.

“The theatre was enormously profitable for its first 20 years, but it then began to feel the effects of television. For the next 20 years, it was just barely maintained. The theatre organ was removed in 1968. Finally, the theater reached an all-time low in 1979 when it was turned into an X-rated movie house,” according to historians.

In 1984, a $2.25 million capital improvement, restoration campaign was launched. In December, 1991 the theater board of directors received the deed to the property of the theatre from the local Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation.

My late bride and I attended a show there in the 1980s featuring the late Bob Hope, a world-class entertainer in a spectacularly festive event.

In the lead photo Pat Colombo is pictured as the behind the scenes maestro of her 48 channel sound console at the theater during a recent organ concert. It is part of a state-of-the-art sound system installed in 2000. It has 52 inputs around the house and 19 speaker outputs. Total cost for this update was $150,000.

The theater’s chandelier was made in 1925 in Austria-Hungary. It contains 105 bulbs, is 9 feet high, 10 feet in diameter, and weighs 3,000 pounds. To clean each crystal and change the bulbs, it must be swung out to clear the balcony and lowered onto the main floor by a hand crank. That is done annually.

Bob White is shown playing the replacement organ purchased in 1983. It is one of only three of its kind and is one of the top-of-the-line instruments made by the Wurlitzer Company. It began its life in a Sunset Boulevard Studio in Hollywood in 1929. From there it was moved to a CBS studio where it was used daily to play the “Amos ‘n Andy Show” theme song.

In 1955, the late Hollywood actor Joseph Kearns (best known as Mr. Wilson on TV's "Dennis the Menace") bought it and actually built his home around it. In October 1983 it was acquired by the Renaissance.

The theater seats 942 on the main floor and 460 in the balcony. It hosts the annual Miss Ohio Scholarship Pageant, first done there in 1980.


Sunday, September 23, 2007


Anytime you mix four talented people, something terrific is bound to occur.

Such was the case with Bob White, Maggie Falcone, Todd Kramer and Pat Colombo at Mansfield’s Renaissance Theater recently.

Bob, 76, from Navarre, OH was the featured performer for the theater’s final organ concert of the season. Maggie, an 83 year young dynamo from Willoughby, OH joined Bob with her own organ segment then played the grand piano while Bob was on the organ for the finale of the one hour and 45 minute rousing, musical performance.

The tunes were the standards like Danny Boy, Amazing Grace, My Romance, Chicago; My Kind of Town and Sweet Georgia Brown.

With Bob at the helm, the restored 1920s grand baroque theater and its Kearns Wurlitzer organ came alive. I watched closely and the instrument seemed to smile as Bob massaged music from its very spirit and the technical folks teased audience ears with rich, melodic comfort.

Pat was in the booth as sound engineer for the show with her partner Todd, the theater’s technical director.

The theater was awash in delightful entertainment that day, and, four very talented people made it happen.

Please stop by for part 2 tomorrow.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


To astronomers this is one of the two points on the celestial sphere where the ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect. The other point, naturally, is the vernal or spring equinox.

To the rest of us this represents the beginning of fall in the northern hemisphere and it happens when the sun appears to cross the celestial equator from north to south.

This year that event happens at 5:51 a.m. EDT, Sunday, September 23rd—more or less.

The word “equinox” derives from Latin and means equal nights. On the 23rd this year, day and night are of approximately equal length everywhere on Earth.

While pure science salivates over accuracy, we ordinary mortals have to take these observations at the approximate level. Watch the sun set for example. It takes quite a few minutes from the time the disc touches the horizon until the top of the disc disappears entirely.

When, then, did the sun actually set?

Then, there is the small inconvenience of diffraction, or light rays bending through the earth’s atmosphere—so, what we are seeing isn’t necessarily precisely what we are seeing.

For our purposes, fall this year will arrive about, approximately, between 5:45 and 6 a.m. this Sunday—more or less. That’s close enough.

I am going to enjoy pondering the fact daylight is about even everywhere on this day.

I am not going to enjoy what I know is coming in a couple of months.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Periodically you will receive, usually in email form, something that sounds like it makes quite a bit of sense, yet, a discerning nose often will detect an associated aroma.

Recent ones I have seen have involved not buying gasoline from Citgo Oil because it is controlled by Hugo Chavez, the demonstrably US-unfriendly president of Venezuela, and, a petition for the US Senate to reconsider a vote on Social Security for illegal immigrants.

Cousin Bill Nolan, a bit of a scientific guru—sometimes with his tongue in his cheek—recently offered a spoof on outlawing Dihydrogen Monoxide as a serious threat to the planet. In this case that horrible-sounding compound is also known as, er, water; which was readily apparent in his well constructed, flim-flam.

If you are ever in doubt when you receive such silliness, here’s a great place to begin evaluating its validity:; also referenced in Cousin Bill’s shenanigan via a link.

There, simply click on “Hottest 25 Legends” and you will likely find your culprit. If not, scan their list of general themes, or, use their search function.

A favorite general topic on the current top 25 list involves missing children reports. So, before you rush to the aid of some “distraught parent” who is searching for a missing child, check Snopes. Might save you some embarrassment.

Here is another dandy reference on this subject (also shared by Cousin Bill): Be sure to read their opening remarks. We all will be better off for following that advice.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

THE KOKOSING GAP BICYCLE TRAIL – This marvelous display of a steam engine, tender, flat car and caboose are featured along this nearly 14 mile trail from Mt. Vernon to Danville, OH.

The display is located on the south edge of the Kenyon College campus in Gambier about 4 miles down the Kokosing River/trail from Mt. Vernon.

In the lower photo riding partner Ted Kmet launches himself toward Danville after pondering this arched bridge under US Route 36 in Howard.

Ohio continues to enjoy a string of terrific weather with low humidity and sunny days with temperatures in the 70s.
Ted and I took advantage of the weather for one last bicycle romp before he heads back to his home in Gainesville, FL for the winter.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


The recent blog piece on the danger of traveling to Venezuela aroused my curiosity regarding the rest of this world. An online search quickly revealed the US State Department’s list of countries they recommend Americans avoid. They are:

Sudan, Haiti, Burundi, Central African Republic, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Chad, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Iran, Timor-Leste, Nepal, Eritrea, Yemen, Philippines, Uzbekistan, Congo, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Algeria, Kenya, Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan, Syria, and Somalia.

Only two of those countries are in the western hemisphere; Haiti and Colombia. The rest are mostly in Africa, the Middle-East and Southeast Asia.

Most of the countries make this list because of civil conflict—which tends to exacerbate lawlessness according to

They point out neither Haiti nor Liberia is technically at war, but rampant criminality can make parts of these countries appear as war zones. Likewise with Columbia; known to be a bastion of drug-warlords in South America.

Experts report terrorists are increasingly focusing on so-called “soft” targets—unprotected tourists etc., where the danger of kidnapping is on the rise. It’s really grown as a cottage industry.

It used to be just Colombia but now it could happen on any continent, and not just for political purposes but for profit.

In 18 of the above 28 countries Muslim is the predominant religion. Seven are Christian and three are listed as favoring Judaism or Hinduism/Buddhism.

Another interesting topical web site is, a Ramboesque site of information for adventurous travelers.

The next time I get to Key West, or, say San Diego, I think I will just turn around when the visit concludes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Daughter-in-Law Kate Wolf (top) and granddaughter Brittany enjoy the Richland Carrousel Park in Mansfield; during the recent celebration of the ride’s 16th birthday.


This carrousel is the first new, hand-carved carrousel to be built and operated in the US since the 1930s. Over 1.25 million dollars were privately raised to begin construction in the fall of 1990. The ride opened for business in August 1991.

In 2006 the carrousel attracted 150,000 riders. They expect to surpass 3 million riders in the summer of 2008.

The locally designed pavilion that houses the all-weather ride is 80 x 80 feet with a 30 foot peak. It also features an attached gift shop. The ride is open year round, 7 days a week—except major holidays.

All of the 52 ride figures were designed, hand carved and hand painted by the Carousel Works of Mansfield. There are 30 horses and 22 other menagerie figures. A Stinson Band Organ made in Bellefontaine, OH provides authentic music.

The facility serves as the anchor feature for an active, downtown redevelopment project just two blocks north of the city’s square.

I remember local nay-sayers grumbling, “I hope the last person to leave downtown remembers to turn off the merry-go-round lights.”

Today nearly 40 businesses operate in the Carrousel District, nearly all enjoying the renewed architectural charm of business buildings there many years ago.

Photography note: The streaking background of the photos helps create an illusion of speed and was done by using a slow shutter speed of 1/20th of a second and panning the camera at exactly the same speed the rider is moving.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Love My Rifle More Than You by Kayla Williams

A sensitive, spicy and intelligent young lady, Williams describes her service in the US Army with a year’s armed service in Iraq. She is fluent in Arabic so was assigned to military intelligence and saw the war—and the men with whom she served--in the rawest form. I hope she writes a sequel.

Way Off the Road by Bill Geist

An anthology of some 28 short tales describing visits to quirky, small-town USA. You’ll learn first about a town so small they have their parade stand still and townsfolk walk around it. He finishes with The Napa Valley of Cow Chips, Beaver, OK Pop: 1,478. You’ll likely enjoy everything in between as well.

A Russian Diary by Anna Politkovskaya

A sobering, chilling look at how Russian President Putin is systematically returning the country to a dictatorship. The book bogs down in repetitiveness; a blur of unpronounceable names in similar despair, but, she makes a convincing case Russia is not like the country we had imagined after the cold war and the fall of the Soviet Union. Scary.

American Islam by Paul M. Barrett

Subtitled “The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion” this book is a balanced and informative look at the practice of Islam in the US today. While the reader is left with a clear picture of this struggle as presented through vignettes of American Muslims it also is noteworthy there is an overall indictment of the radical component of the religion largely originating from the Wahhabism centered in Saudi Arabia and southern Asia.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


WOW! Take a look at your lower eastern sky about 6 a.m. on the next clear morning. It will look like someone is shining a flashlight into your eyes—from space.

That extraordinarily bright image is the planet Venus.

Venus far outshines all true stars, but, unlike stars which are producing their own illumination, Venus is simply reflecting the light of our star, the Sun.

Since she is between us and the Sun she is always close to the Sun; hence her brightness, and only appears in the morning or evening sky. She has a diameter of some 7,575 miles; just a fuzz smaller than Earth.

While you are up and about at that hour look overhead toward the south and find nearly everyone’s favorite constellation Orion. The “Hunter” is easy to identify with its three nearly identical belt stars in a very straight alignment.

Hold your hand at arm’s length and put the heel of your flat palm on Orion’s head. About 1 and ½ times the width of your hand and nearly straight north you will see a fairly bright “star” with a reddish cast.

That’s Mars!

Compared to Venus she looks fairly mediocre in brilliance. That’s because that planet is smaller—about 4,200 miles in diameter—and much farther from the sun. She has a warm hue because of her heavily oxidized surface.

Saturn also may be visible for you in this part of the sky. She is following Venus in climbing above the eastern horizon and about twice the width of your hand toward the north. But, I think she is overtaken by the growing daylight before she climbs above my wooded, eastern view.

That problem will fix itself as our length of day continues to shorten.

Saturday, September 15, 2007





This year’s edition is the 157th of the Bellville Agricultural Society Street and Junior Fair and Homecoming—the mouthful by which it is formally known.

Local folks regard it as a “World’s” fair because of its homecoming nature. Expatriates come from across the globe to celebrate this annual event.

Tom Barr, vice president of the fair board explained, “There are only two small town fairs like ours in existence in Ohio, ours and Loudonville’s”.

Because of its strong Future Farmer of America presence and its wide ranging displays of livestock and horticulture it remains a formal fair subsidized by the Department of Agriculture just like a county fair.

Officials from that department inspect the event’s rides each year for safety.

While a precise census of attendance is impossible because of the fair’s open boundaries, local fair officials are proud to point out Bellville’s four-day attendance “...easily exceeds the Richland County fair and its seven day run.”

If you have ever attended the event on a Friday or Saturday evening you will find the above assertion very easy to believe.

If you are reading this on Saturday and you are in the vicinity you need to plan your visit quickly. The fair closes tonight.

Photography Note: The above image is of the Ferris wheel in motion during an exposure of several seconds. The camera was stabilized by pushing it firmly against a steel, utility pole in front of Fast Eddie’s, a popular, local eatery.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Recently I joined 40 plus folks in a 30 person-size room at the Lexington Library for a formal peek at this phenomenon of on-line buying and selling in an auction format.

Ponder this: The company was founded in 1995 and finished the year 2006 with 13 billion (yes, billion) dollars in sales.

At any given time there are likely more than 100 million items available for sale, world-wide of course.

They sell a digital camera every minute.

A fork lift usually goes in about 4 hours.

In August 2006 they sold their two millionth passenger vehicle on line.

The most expensive item ever sold there—a Gulfstream II corporate airplane that went for 4.9 million bucks in August 2001.

They make their money with listing and sales fees—fairly modest ones at that. For example; say you want to sell a digital camera for a $60 asking price. Your “Insertion Fee” to place your ad would be $2.40.

If the item sells, you are charged a final value fee. Using an example from their web site; this camera sells for say, $153. Your final sales fee would be $5.47. Add that to your listing fee of 2.40 and you have a cost of $7.87 to sell your $153 dollar item.

And, the buyer pays shipping fees which are not included in the above sample.

To smooth the flow of dollars from buyer to seller, most folks use a firm called Pay Pal (also owned by eBay). Once registered there, buyers and sellers have a cashless society where transactions are near instant and secure.

I don’t know if they included the Pay Pal fees in the above example but in another sample they indicated a Pay Pal fee of $2.04 on a $52 sale.

Even the US Postal Service has gotten into the action. Recognizing the huge benefit in business from eBay they offer sellers free shipping boxes and, you can purchase and print postage and labels on your home computer.

I feel inspired to go poke around in the attic. But, alas, I do not have one of those.

Just my luck.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

George Kmet, left and brother Ted on the Bridge of Dreams, Brinkhaven, OH


I thought I heard Ted Kmet say something about a goat while he was bicycling ahead of his brother George and me on a back road into Brinkhaven.

Sure enough, around a little bend in the road there was Ted taking pictures of—a goat tethered in the weeds. It seemed like an obliging critter so I stopped for a picture as well only to have my attention diverted by the prompt arrival of a domesticated turkey.

The turkey squawked a lot but I quickly concluded it was just trying to hustle us
out of a snack as it applied a huge dose of turkey curiosity to my reclining mountain bike. I hoped there was not some questionable fondness developing.

It was one of those delightful days for a bike ride. It looked like God spilled deep blue paint on the sky when we launched earlier in Danville and rode the crushed gravel, Mohican Valley Trail about 5 mostly wooded miles to Brinkhaven.

Mountain bikes were the correct choice with their wide knobby tires.

As you approach the Mohican River
crossing at Brinkhaven a delightful covered bridge comes into view; The Bridge of Dreams, which, at 370 feet is the longest covered bridge in Ohio.

Its name came from it just being a “dream” when it was conceived in 1990 by an energetic bunch of local volunteers. It was dedicated in 1999.

This trail connects the very nice Kokosing Gap Trail which has 14 miles of smooth pavement from Mt. Vernon to Danville with the Holmes County Trail which is under construction.

We were working our way between those trails when our “zoo” visit broke out.

Eventually, folks will be able to ride from Mt. Vernon to Millersburg.

While Amish buggies do not use the paved Kokosing trail there is ample evidence of their use between Danville and Brinkhaven. I noticed the hoof prints and buggy tracks and could imagine a scratchy clip-clop as a family of that timeless culture made their way through this bucolic setting.
Thanks God for a delightful venue and good friends to share it with.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

BOOK REPORT and more—

The Great Depression by Lee Cavin

Close friend Nancy Kulka loaned me her autographed copy of this delightful little book and I devoured it—with pleasure. It is about a young man’s life growing up in downtown Mansfield at the height of the depression in the early 1930s.

I grew up near downtown through the 40’s and 50’s so the read was a serious dose of warm nostalgia. I knew about virtually every place he mentioned. I caught crawdads in some of the same creeks he did.

When I finished the read I didn’t want to put the book down. Somehow that would break the spell.

Then, I noticed on one of the cover pages it had a copyright in 1997 and was published in Loudonville. I checked the phone book and—there he was.

Shortly I was treated to a marvelous conversation with an 86 year old fellow whose gravelly voice, with a smile at every punctuation mark, swiftly turned my read into a glowing personal experience.

We reminisced at length at our boyhood experiences which failed to overlap by just a decade or so.

Turns out he writes a column to this day in the Loudonville Times called “Conversations”. The most recent was number 1,119; all this the result of a temporary job he took there years ago which included a three year stint as editor.

Somehow I feel a visit to Loudonville coming soon. Do it forthwith he implied with that voice wrapped in a smile.
I think he has lots of other things to tell me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


US Senator Larry Craig (R) Idaho now wants to withdraw his guilty plea in a wretched effort to salvage his political career.

Recently he was caught in a police sting operation involving deviant behavior in a restroom at the Minneapolis airport.

He now says he was under stress and pleaded guilty only to put the matter behind him.

Frankly Senator, I’ve watched and listened to your explanations. I’ve also paid careful attention to published and broadcast remarks by the officer involved in your arrest.

Frankly, I believe the police officer.

And, I can understand your guilty plea. You were caught with your pants down. It happened far from the spotlight of the national media. With a quick, quiet guilty plea you hoped to slither on down the road while this sordid event dissolved into history.

Except it didn’t work that way.

Word got out and your Senate colleagues stripped you of all your prestigious committee assignments. A formal investigation by a Senate ethics panel is pending.

No doubt, with an eye on preserving your golden parachute of Senate retirement benefits, you resigned.

That was the correct decision. Leave it alone—and leave.

Monday, September 10, 2007


This 47 acre horticultural estate continues to be one of the Mansfield area’s premier attractions. The mansion, pictured above, was built in 1926 for Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kelly King.

King was hired as the Ohio Brass Company’s first electrical engineer in 1893. He led the company to being a leader in the manufacturing of electrical fittings for railroads and trolleys, finally serving as the company’s president and chairman of the board.

The estate was opened as a public garden in 1953, one year after Mr. King’s death.

In addition to the wide variety of outdoor gardens punctuated by a delightful collection of water features the facility does many programs. Recent examples include; Botanical Illustration, Heiretzu—the Japanese one-row style, Butterfly Gardening, Incredible, Edible Flowers and, Harvesting and Drying Flowers and Foliages.

All annual plants used on the grounds are cultivated in the facility’s expansive greenhouses.

Further, Kingwood contains an 8,500 volume library; known as one of the best gardening libraries in Ohio. And, it is a lending library with its catalog integrated with that of the Mansfield-Richland County Public Library.

Spend a few hours there from time to time. It’s like giving yourself a present.

They are on the web here:

Photography Note: The intense blue sky was achieved with the use of a polarizing filter. Two large trees in front of the mansion now mostly block the building from view far enough south to include some of the lawn and gardens in the foreground. This photo was done close under one of those trees with a wide angle lens then the skew function of Photoshop was used to correct the vertical distortion.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


When you are in Texarkana, TX you are closer to Chicago than El Paso. It’s 679 miles to Chicago and 733 to El Paso. Texas truly is a big state.

California is west of Nevada. Yet, Carson City, Nevada’s capital, is west of Los Angeles.

When you leave downtown Detroit to the south, what is the next political subdivision you will enter? Yup, Canada—even though everyone knows Canada is our neighbor to the north.

Jacksonville, FL is on the east coast, yet, it is actually west of Pittsburg, PA which itself is 315 miles west of New York City which also is on the east coast. Hmmm.

And, one of my favorites: The Panama Canal is in the country of Panama. The canal connects the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The ocean is to Panama’s west and the sea to its east. When you are traveling through the canal from the Pacific to the Caribbean, then, what direction are you headed? East you say? Nope, you are actually headed northwest.


Saturday, September 8, 2007


After I posted Friday’s blog Max and I took our usual morning hike. First we were treated to the visual candy of the sunrise in the southwest woods (top).

Then, in the larger picture the sun is just piercing the top of this walnut tree below the dam. The infestation of webworms is made readily apparent by their silvery cocoons.

Clearly, they also have nearly defoliated the top of this tree.

Fortunately, the percentage of infestation is much less in the lower 2/3 of the canopy. Besides, the walnut trees already are beginning to shed their leaves in the natural, annual cycle so I believe it is unlikely there is any lasting damage.

As you also can see, we are expecting a good crop of walnuts this year.

One 15 minute walk in the woods—two dramatically different views; both, tiny parts of nature’s natural splendor.

Friday, September 7, 2007


This time of year many Ohio trees contain large webs of Hyphantria cunea; commonly known as fall webworms. In spite of their making it less likely you will hug that tree, they really cause very little damage overall.

If you look carefully at any nest right now they likely are well populated with adult caterpillars. Surrounding the heavily webbed area you may notice some defoliation. Except for being an eyesore it generally is not sufficient to damage the host tree. Lots of little dots of feces likely also are visible clinging to the web.

These pests will usually fall to the ground and over winter in the pupal stage (a non-feeding metamorphosis between the caterpillar and adult moth). The adults emerge from late May to July and lay their hundreds of eggs in a layer or layers on the underside of leaves. They will hatch in about a week and the small mass of caterpillars will web over a single leaf. Then as they grow they will enlarge the web until it becomes as visible as they are now.

The adult is a small, mostly white moth in the Family Arctiidae and very hairy. Its front legs have bright yellow or orange patches and its wingspan is 35 to 42 mm (35 mm = 1.38 inches). See small photo.

The nests can be pruned out of the trees, but, burning is not advised because that usually causes more damage to the tree than the caterpillars. Chemical controls include insecticide sprays and merely wetting the nest and surrounding foliage is sufficient.

For those nests out of reach in the tall trees, translocated systemics applied to the soil for root uptake is often used.

Or, better yet, ignore the eyesore, and enjoy watching yet another example of nature taking its course.

Thursday, September 6, 2007



It is an oil-rich tropical country on the north coast of South America and is among the top countries in the world for its ecological diversity.
It’s current president, Hugo Chavez Frias (2002) has raised some controversy by reforms to their Constitution and his assumption, approved by the National Assembly, of powers to rule by decree.

It has an estimated population of 27,700,000; about 2 ½ times the population of Ohio.

It was in the news last week when the Associated Press reported the Caracas Hilton hotel had been nationalized by the government. It will now be a “socialist” establishment, the state news agency reported.

Since 1998 relations between Venezuela and the US have progressively worsened, resulting in us imposing military sanctions.

Regarding the safety of travel to this country, here are some US State Department comments:

“SAFETY AND SECURITY: Violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive, both in the capital, Caracas, and in the interior. The country has one of the highest per-capita murder rates in the world. Armed robberies take place in broad daylight throughout the city, including areas generally presumed safe and frequented by tourists. A common technique is to choke the victim into unconsciousness and then rob them of all they are carrying. Well armed criminal gangs operate with impunity, often setting up fake police checkpoints. Kidnapping is a particularly serious problem, with more than 1,000 reported during the past year alone....”

I think I’ll pass on visiting this one.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mansfield’s Labor Day Parade Monday was enjoyed under crystalline skies and led by a color guard of firemen dressed in formal uniforms. It featured over 50 units and followed the traditional route from the 5-way light at Park Ave. and Bowman into the downtown area.


Celebrated the first Monday of September, the holiday is a creation of the labor movement. It constitutes a yearly, national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of the country.

Yet today, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers. Some records show a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor was first to propose a special day to honor workers.

Recent research, however, seems to support the idea was first advanced by the secretary of NY City’s Central Labor Union in 1882. They adopted a Labor Day proposal and conducted the first celebration on September 5th that year.

In 1884 they changed their date to the first Monday of September and urged similar organizations in other cities to follow their example and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date.

Many municipalities adopted local ordinances in 1885 and 1886 and from those a movement began to secure state legislation. The first state to pass a law was Oregon in 1887.

Many other states followed quickly and on June 28th, 1894 Congress passed an act making the first Monday of September a legal holiday in DC and “the territories”.

Today the US Department of Labor reminds us “The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


I recently attended a meeting of the reunion committee for the 50th anniversary of my high school graduating class to be held in 2008.

That sent me home to a long look at the high school yearbook.

And, the memories came flooding back.

I met my yet-to-be-bride Carol back then. She was a couple of years behind me in school. While she finished her school years and because the military draft was then looming I scurried off to the US Coast Guard for a four year hitch.

Then came marriage and a move to New York State to establish our first nest then a transfer to Detroit and the arrival of our first son while I finished my service and moved to Bowling Green to start college which also brought the arrival of our second son. Money ran out before the degree arrived and we were off to Norwalk then Mansfield as I launched my career in journalism.

We bought our ranch style dream-home in the suburbs just in time to celebrate the birth of our daughter and soon learned three kids in an allotment was a tight squeeze and headed to an old farm house and some acreage out in the country below Lexington.

Then came a six year stint of self employment as a professional photographer wrapped around four years of flying professionally for a local steel company then political involvement with an appointment to a two year term as county director of elections which preceded election to two four year terms as a county commissioner then a quiet disappearance into the peaceful obscurity of a 4-year job as treasurer of the Clear Fork school system.

As I was once again pondering what to do when I grew up, I obtained a Class A commercial driving license and took a whack at truck driving; starting with hauling steel over the road, then delivering roof trusses and finally buzzing around Amish country in a little semi delivering corrugated boxes for a local company from which I formally retired about a year after I lost my bride to cancer following 41+ years of marriage.

I chuckled when I read my “ambition” posted in the annual which was “To own General Motors.”

Well—at least I did own a couple of Chevy’s.

Monday, September 3, 2007


You folks who live in places like Harlingen, Yuma or Boca Raton can skip this one. But, if you live in a more temperate latitude where English remains the common language, read on!

I just completed another of those nifty programs by our Gorman Nature Center; this one involved identifying wildflowers commonly seen along our 18 mile bike trail. We did the event, naturally, on bicycles led by the center’s director and naturalist, Steve McKee.

He regaled us with identifications and stories of lots of plants like; Spearmint and Chickory and Rag Weed and Wingstem and Jewel Weeds. You remember that species as “Touch Me Nots”.

“We have over 1,000 species of wild plants in Richland County and many of them have interesting stories,” McKee smiled as he chomped on a bit of Yarrow while telling us how the Native Americans used the plant as a tissue deadening painkiller. Sure enough, moments later the side of his mouth was getting numb.

He went on to find and describe Wild Lettuce and White Snake Root and Tall Bell Flower and Bouncing Bet.

The snake root plant can be deadly. It creates a serious but delayed illness in cows which can be passed to humans in lethal doses before the animal shows any symptoms. “Pasteurization protects us from that kind of problem today,” he assured us.

“See this species”, he said. “It can make soap” and he went on to squish the leaves of a Bouncing Bet in some water in his hand and produced a green lather “...that served as soap” in days long before the neighborhood grocery store.

I wound up providing the entertainment for the outing when, during the program, I hopped on the bike and promptly got invisibly swatted flat onto the pavement. Naturally, the embarrassment far exceeded the injuries.

I was very tempted to ask Steve for another demonstration of the medicinal benefits of Yarrow.

Sunday, September 2, 2007


Simple Genius by David Baldacci

With 12 previous consecutive bestsellers Baldacci spins another quick moving tale; this one set in colonial Virginia. Lots of CIA intrigue, lots of action and the plot has more twists than a large bag of pretzels.

Dangerous Waters by John S. Burnett

A chilling look at piracy and terror on the high seas; a current and growing danger to life and the global economy. Remember how easily terrorists nearly destroyed the US warship Cole. Imagine such an attack on a 1,000 foot long super tanker full of highly explosive petroleum product in the harbor of a major city. This book clearly exposes that danger.

The Day the Earth Caved In by Joan Quigley

The small Pennsylvania borough (town) of Centralia fights an underground coal mine fire until nearly 20 years later the town is virtually abandoned. The book is a touching look at the people who lost the battle and an indictment of the corporate and political leaders who let the tragedy happen.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Wow! Here’s a piercing look, neatly wrapped around multi-disciplinary sciences, that explores the impact of humans on Earth. One critic said, “This is a very important book for a species playing games with its own destiny.” Amen.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Columbus TV news is reporting former OSU President Karen Holbrook “‘...said the outcry she faced after lambasting Buckeyes’ game–day behavior during a Florida job interview is nothing new.’ ”

“Holbrook told officials at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers earlier this month that she confronted a ‘culture of rioting‘ when she arrived at Ohio State in 2002...When you win a game, you riot. When you lose a game, you riot. When spring comes, you riot...” Holbrook said in the interview.

Her comments have sparked a Buckeyes-boosting backlash according to news commentators.

An example: Former trustee Dan Slane said “...her depiction was somewhat exaggerated. Rowdy fans also aren’t unique to Ohio State.”

It is to the university’s credit this clueless wimp is a former trustee.

Holbrook is 1,000% correct in her arguably gentle comments, a natural characteristic of this classy lady.

You’ve seen the after game mayhem—often on national news: rioting in the streets with a background of overturned, burning cars and smashed store windows. To call these scumbags Neanderthals is to render them a compliment.

True, some of them may not be OSU students. Regardless, their behavior reflects horribly on the civilized fans of the university.

Holbrook tried to elevate this “culture of rioting” to something bordering on good sportsmanship.

She is no longer the president.

Let us hope the person they have re-hired as her successor has the moral strength and willingness to enforce civilized behavior.