Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Today's Standard of excellence is mediocrity.
(Note: 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.)
Regarding a recent freezing rain event which caused a whopping 250 private residents to loose power in the Lexington and Bellville area for a brief time, this from that event's story in the Mansfield News Journal: "Jeff Walters, manager of the Lexington branch Post Office said, '...If we can't deliver safely then we won't go out.' "
What ever happened to the storied history of the post office which used to proudly proclaim, "Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor dark of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."
I'll tell you what has happened; our standard of excellence has become mediocrity.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I treasure fond memories of model trains being an enchanting part of my youthful Christmas holidays.
About the time my father-Santa went to bed early Christmas morning I would be hurling down the steps to be sure ole Mr. Kringle had returned my toy railroad to our living room out on N. Benton St.
Its short legged 4 x 8 foot platform would always be there, supporting the Lionel trains with the gaily decorated tree right smack in the middle of things.
As I began to ponder this blog story I was delighted to meet veteran Mansfield city fireman Dale Clemons who oozes the enjoyment of my youth with his exquisitely detailed train layout of that exact same size.
For me it was raw, hair tingling magic way back then. For Dale it is “Sanity time.”
He can escape the bone bruising challenges of his profession there in his warm basement and wrestle with yet another small detail of his Lilliputian-sized railroad town.
On one street corner of his layout is Rosemary’s German House, a restaurant honoring his mother-in-law. He almost molded it into a house of questionable repute but doubted she would be too pleased.
The day I visited a two-story commercial building in his layout was belching real smoke and being attended to by a squadron of miniature firefighters while trains roared by on the nearby main line through town.
The smoke was coming from a carefully hand-crafted concoction hidden below his layout. The authenticity of his firemen’s attack on the blaze was from his 19 years of service in the real business of fire fighting.
Meanwhile, back at the model firehouse the stand-by squad of miniature firemen was enjoying a game of Corn Hole on Dale’s hand-crafted game boxes and tossing bags while just down the street things were normal at the town’s very-authentic, scratch-built greenhouse.
Dale started this layout just a year ago and hopes to double its size soon. His town has 30 plus buildings and a subway that goes somewhere. It has miles of fishing-line electrical wires whose realism compels any visitor’s amazement.
“I’d guess I have a couple thousand dollars invested here,” Dale smiled. “Maybe a wee bit more” he whispered.
It’s not important for wives to hear of such details.
We joked about that wee bit of adult male philosophy as he returned his attention (right) to some tender-loving-care of an old engine...
...and I sat quietly for a moment in the swirl of pleasant memories.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
We enjoy sharing the above image which was my cover photo on our holiday greeting cards this year. The lighted bubble ornament was delightfully suggestive of a time long past and the hint of a Christmas tree was compliments of a branch of white pine I found on the floor of the woods. Photoshop software provided the text "Noel".
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
For over 20 years the century-old Herlihy family home on West 2nd St, in Mansfield has been the showcase of local Christmas displays. Decorating for this year’s celebration began in mid-October and features 25 Christmas trees alone including the 16 foot behemoth pictured right which sports 6,300 lights.
Another popular feature of the display is a Lionel model train layout (below) first collected by the late Paul Herlihy 50 years ago. It has to be the most publicly enjoyed model train display in Mansfield history and stimulates many memories of the author’s own Lionel trains of childhood Christmases.
Please join us Saturday for a peek at some other local model railroading.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
The transcontinental route of the Lincoln Highway is depicted in the map above while below traffic moves through Mansfield’s square which still prominently displays the historic highway’s signs. In the first photo lower right looking north through the subway on Park Ave. East, you can see the route through town was different from 1913 to 1928 than in later years. In the next lower picture a gaily painted fire plug at Park Ave. West and Bowman St., is sporting the Lincoln Highway symbol in celebration of the city’s 200th birthday in 2008.
It was dedicated in 1913. Its first official length was 3,389 miles from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco and it soon became known as “The Main Street Across America”.
It also was the country’s first major memorial dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln, pre-dating Lincoln’s Memorial in Washington, DC by nine years.
Its entire route through Ohio was located on US Route 30 from East Liverpool to Van Wert and on into Indiana. That highway used to pass through downtown Mansfield. Now, of course, we know US Route 30 locally as the Mansfield Expressway.
US 30 originally came into Richland County from the east near Mifflin on what is now known as Ohio Route 430 and it exits our county to the west on Ohio Route 309. Notice the number “30” is contained in those new route numbers; a clue to the route’s original designation.
That is why you will see those familiar, red, white and blue Lincoln Highway markers on those roads today and not along the current four-lane version.
In 1912 railroads dominated our interstate transportation and only 8.6 percent of the network of mostly local roads was “improved” surfaces of gravel, or bricks for example. That era was long before asphalt or concrete paving were common.
The cost of constructing the highway was estimated at 10 million dollars in that year. Today, by the way, it costs an average of 15 million dollars to build one mile of interstate highway.
Blazing the trail for the new route west of the Mississippi River in 1913 involved a caravan of 17 cars and two trucks and took 34 days to reach the west coast.
Travel across the newly constructed “highway” was described in those years as “...somewhat of a sporting proposition.” Motorists were advised to wade through any water encountered to verify its depth.
Advice to travelers near Fish Springs, UT in those days was to build a fire of sagebrush in the event of trouble and, a Mr. Thomas would come to the rescue with his team of horses.
A young army Lt. Col. named Eisenhower was involved in another convoy across the US in 1919—that one took nearly two months to accomplish. It was that effort plus his experience with the German autobahn in the 1940s that ultimately led to today’s interstate highway system which was formed with legislation adopted in 1956 during Eisenhower’s presidency.
If you hop on the Mansfield Expressway today, turn east and follow US 30 you will wind up in Atlantic City, NJ. Head west and stop just before your feet get wet and you will be in Astoria, OR.
That coast-to-coast ride will take a good deal longer that a similar zip on the interstate highways.
If you follow the original Lincoln Highway you will travel on many, many routes in addition to US 30.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The Lincoln Highway, the nation’s first transcontinental highway, passed smack through the center of Mansfield, OH following mostly US Route 30 on its course across the country. In this photo looking north on US 42 near Grace St., you can see the highway took this route from its construction in 1913 to 1928. Saturday, Fogeyisms takes a peek at this interesting piece of our country’s history.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
In a recent study it was sought to be determined, “Do Americans possess the knowledge necessary to participate wisely in the affairs of the nation?”
A whopping seventy one percent of all Americans, college-educated and otherwise, failed the test.
Fewer than half of the participants could name the three branches of government, “...a minimal requirement for understanding America’s constitutional system” according to experts.
In another finding it was determined “College adds little to civic knowledge.” People with bachelor’s degrees failed the test with an average score of 57%, only13 percentage points above the scores of folks with a high school diploma.
Further, elected officials were found to score lower than the general public. Their average score—44%.
30% of these officials did not know “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence.
The overall average score was 49%. Included in that were Republicans at 52% and Democrats at 45%.
I’m tempted to chuckle at that final, depressing tidbit until the obvious dawning that both party results are incredibly far below the 70% threshold for success in most of life’s tests.
Click here for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute report, where you can * gulp * take the sample test yourself.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The morning after my weekly square dancing lesson feels like, well, the morning after. I slither out of bed and wonder how my joints got rusty overnight.
My new friend Fran Hoeppner with her radiantly soft and charming smile recently invited me to join her in this form of a life-sized, pin ball game on the dance floor.
Danny Beck is our professorial caller with his pleasantly soothing voice inviting we dancers to spin through a choreograph of moves that, to this rookie, is like trying to comprehend quantum physics in three easy lessons.
The declining remnants of my brain cells feel, on those mornings after, as if they spent the night in a nuclear-powered blender.
The veteran dancers in this training venue are called “Angels”. They flow effortlessly through a zillion variations of what I remember as a simple Do-see-do.
They will collectively Allemande left from an Ocean Wave to a Grand Square and slide smoothly into a Promenade—while I am trying to remember how to begin the Alle-mande.
Not really. That’s just how it seems. Every time my face takes on a blank rookie-dancer stare, one of the angels will whirl by and point the way. I’ll begin to stutter-step into a Rollaway with a Half Sashay and another angel will give me a boost to the next angel thus cleverly hiding my confusion.
Once in awhile, to my horror, even the efforts of angels are insufficient and one of my not-so-gallant moves will cause our square to look like it just went through the aforementioned blender.
Toleration at such transgressions appears to exist in unlimited quantities and we somehow reassemble our smoothly oiled square with the occasional whispered comment from one veteran dancer, “That was caused by another veteran dancer, not you.”
While I know in my mind that comforting remark is not likely the whole truth, it makes my heart feel good.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The Wettest County by Matt Bondurant
This novel is based on a true story of the author’s grandfather and two grand uncles of the same name and their tale of a notorious life as Virginia mountain moonshiners in the 1930s. In this period of Prohibition, then the depression, this story reveals the passion, violence and desperation of their often explosive lifestyle. The author has the annoying practice of jumping back and forth in the period of the story, but, if you are a fan of historical novels, this one is, well, interesting.
What’s the Matter with California by Jack Cashill
I’m surprised this PhD-endowed author could deal with this delicious subject in a mere 329 pages. One of my favorite quotes from his book; “She was enough of a Californian to resent being called an American....” These denizens of the left coast continue to provide ample material for such tomes; remember the recent skirmish between Berkeley apparatchiks and US Marine recruiters. Don’t read this if you have a misbehaving ulcer.
Spencerville by Nelson DeMille
Another dandy tale by DeMille; this one involves a corrupt western Ohio small town cop whose wife is in love with her college sweetheart/lover, Keith Landry—a retired, clandestine government operative. A real page turner. The good guys win and I love it when that happens.
State of Fear by Michael Crichton
This book appears to wander aimlessly through some 500 pages with an occasional inspired passage. Then, poof—a smashing conclusion, and all is once again well with my elevated view of this author’s work which has included such notable titles as The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park. Be sure to read carefully the “Author’s Message” at the story’s end and Appendix I, Why Politicized Science is Dangerous. Complete with footnotes and a bibliography this book blurs the lines between fact and fiction and uses the latter to puncture the “science” of global warming being man’s creation.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
As snow showers pestered my view of the woods I found myself pondering my road bicycle. You see, it lives in my living room—a furnishing violation only achievable by bachelors, of course.
With a delightful summer of riding experiences behind me, the bike’s inanimate continence compelled wistful thoughts of rides yet to come.
It also nudged my curiosity toward this marvelous machine’s history.
Yup, with a few keystrokes, I soon learned Baron Von Drais invented a walking machine that looked surprisingly like today’s bikes in 1817. It was made entirely of wood. The contraption was steerable and propelled by straddling it and pushing yourself around with feet on the ground.
The next appearance of a two-wheeled riding machine was in 1865 with the Velocipede (fast foot). This contrivance also was of wood with two identically sized wheels but, with pedals attached to the front wheel.
It also was known as the bone shaker because the cobblestone roads of the time were certainly not conducive to a smooth ride.
The first all metal machine, the high wheel bicycle, appeared in 1870. Prior to that metal was not strong or light enough for the small parts necessary. And, the large, front wheel equipped with the new solid rubber tire, metal rim and long spokes helped smooth the ride, but the high center of gravity brought considerable peril to the rider.
Their hey-day was in the 1880s and cost the average worker about six months pay.
About the same time high wheel tricycles came along and allowed the ladies, confined to their fashion of long skirts and corsets, to ride merrily about town. These cycles also introduced mechanical innovations such as the differential, rack and pinion steering and band brakes.
Further advances in metallurgy allowed the introduction of chains and sprockets which also brought gears thus giving the riders considerable mechanical advantage over previous designs.
The pneumatic tire was introduced to bicycles by an Irish veterinarian and patented in October 1888.
For the ladies the bicycle craze of the Gay Nineties killed the bustle and corset while introducing “common sense dressing.” In 1896 Susan B. Anthony said, “The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world.”
By the middle 1950s bikes had evolved into “The Classic Era”. These were the balloon tired, ostentatious 50 pound behemoths that today’s golden agers enjoyed in their youth.
Current bikes while of a decidedly modern look remain surprisingly similar to their counterparts of over 100 years ago. Metal frames have now morphed into carbon fiber material which is even stronger and much, much lighter.
And, as many or more than 27 gears are quite common; rather silly if your riding is mostly confined to bike trails, but, you will use all of them and sometimes wish for more if your preferred terrain is the hilly variety.
Now, let’s see; how many more days until spring?
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Please stop by.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Take a peek low in your southwestern sky at dusk one of these clear evenings and you will see two very bright “stars” close together.
They, of course, are not stars at all; they are the planets Jupiter and Venus.
Jupiter is the higher one. Venus is the brighter one.
They appear close together simply because their orbits around the sun have them coincidentally in a similar line of sight from Earth.
It takes one Earth year for us to orbit the Sun at our distance of 93 million miles. It takes Venus 6/10 of an Earth year to complete its orbit because it is closer to the sun at just over 67 million miles. Jupiter’s distance from the sun is over 480 million miles therefore its single orbit takes 11.9 Earth years.
So, while they appear close together from our angle of view they actually are about 413 million miles apart.
Venus is the brighter of the two simply because of its relatively close proximity to the Sun and to us. Remember, light loses intensity over distance traveled and Jupiter is much further away.
At 5:30 p.m. on a recent evening these were the only two celestial bodies visible in the remaining daylight, and, your thumb held horizontally at arms length should just cover the distance between the planets.
Try it. One bright body directly above the other, the bottom one the brighter of the two, and separated by the thickness of your thumb at arms length. Nothing else low in the southwest sky at this time will meet those specifications.
And, this little exercise will prove you have good eyesight. You will be able to legitimately claim you can see a recognizable object at nearly 300 million miles distance.
Monday, December 1, 2008
This from ABC News 13 in Asheville, NC:
Battling cancer, Ted Kennedy to get Harvard honors
December 01, 2008 06:06 EST
"CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -- Harvard University's law school is set to bestow an honorary degree on ailing Senator Ted Kennedy...
Harvard says the honor recognizes Kennedy's 'lifelong commitment to public service'..."
Fogeyisms seriously doubts the family of Mary Jo Kopechne shares Harvard's view of this pathetic person's character.
Need to review the story of Miss Kopechne's death while in the company of Ted Kennedy, click here.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The old 1st Alliance Church on E. Third St. has been aglow with secular creativity since 1967 when The Mansfield Playhouse, the second oldest community theater in Ohio, did Brigadoon, its first production there.
The playhouse and its predecessors have been producing local plays since 1929 and, a stunning amount of behind the scenes activity precedes every play’s ultimately polished appearance on stage.
Longtime theater manager Susie Schaus explains the normal velocity of activity at the playhouse, “During our season which runs from September to June there is almost always a play in rehearsal while auditions are being held for the next following production; all this before the current production ends.”
The set for the next production, The Miracle on 34th St., was under construction before the stage was cleared after the previous show. When opening night arrives December 5th more than 50 volunteers will be involved in support of the actual cast and crew.
It costs about $6,000 to put on a show.
Auditions, the first formal activity of a new play, began October 20th when 76 local folks tried out for parts. By the 27th the 33 cast members were in rehearsals which will continue almost daily until opening night.
By the 28th they were being measured for costumes.
On November 10th the stage was cleared of the set for the previous production—which closed on the 9th—and the Miracle’s cast moved upstairs for their first rehearsal on the main stage.
The play has 34 different scenes that director Rich Wasowski and team need to polish into opening night perfection.
By opening night nearly 100 hours of rehearsal alone will have been completed. It is nearly impossible to calculate the total hours devoted to getting a play to opening night when one considers such additional jobs as costuming, set production, and technical engineering among a zillion other tasks.
Miracle on 34th St., is a Christmas classic. Kris Kringle is the personification of good will and holiday spirit. As Macy’s holiday Santa, he enchants children and shoppers so completely he is deemed dangerous by fellow employees who plot to ruin him. A small girl’s belief in Santa and the magic of the holiday is at stake in a climactic courtroom decision.
Do yourself a favor; the tickets are modestly priced and the productions are easily near-Broadway quality right here on E. Third St., in our hometown, USA.
Break a leg, cast and crew!
Director Wasowski (above) coaxes perfection from Carmone Macfarlane playing Dr. Pierce as she tells Santa Kris (played by Gordi Wendling, a Mansfield policeman) he might have to go to a sanatorium while Don Lincicome as Mr. Shellhamer awaits his cue.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
The main auditorium of the Mansfield Playhouse soon will be the scene of a holiday production, The Miracle on 34th St. Fogeyisms has followed this production starting with auditions in October. Saturday, we will share with you the nearly countless hours of work that leads to the show’s six performance dates beginning with opening night, Friday, December 5th.
Please stop by, then better yet, buy some tickets and go enjoy the show!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The lake-effect snow machine runs on warm lake water. Surface water temperatures in the Great Lakes can be relatively warm compared to cold air flowing over them this time of year.
When the difference in temperature between the surface and the air aloft reaches a threshold value, typically between 18 and 23 degrees, lake effect snow becomes possible.
As cold air flows over the warm water, the lake warms and moistens the air. Since warm, moist air is less dense than cold air, the heated air rises. Rising air cools and water vapor condenses into cloud droplets.
Water vapor can turn to snow when it rises above the freezing level.
These clouds can produce snow over the lake, but the efficiency of snow production increases when the wind pushes the clouds over land. Friction with the ground causes air to pile up. This creates lift and enhances snowfall.
The lifting produced when these clouds run into the inland hills further enhances the snow production. That’s exactly what happens in the higher terrain east of Cleveland.
Winds accompanying these cold air masses in this area generally blow from a west or northwest direction causing lake effect snow to fall on the east or southeast sides of the lakes.
In order to have heavy lake-effect snow, cold air must travel over at least 60 miles of relatively warmer open water.
Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes and, because of that, it is the warmest which means it can generate impressive snows early in the winter. However, it cools rapidly during the winter and is the only lake prone to freezing over.
When that happens lake-effect snows are effectively turned off.
The most notorious area for prodigious amounts of lake-effect snow around here is Buffalo, NY. This is because a west wind has some 250 miles of open water over which to gain moisture before it collides with the rising terrain at Buffalo’s east end of the lake.
They like to claim the title of the World’s Record City for Snowfall based on their 5 day record for continuous snow at 82.3 inches which fell in December 2001. (1)
Cleveland, by comparison, has a seasonal snowfall average of but 52 inches. (2)
The photo was taken recently from the computer screen of an image produced by the radar of Intellicast.com. Lake effect snows are clearly visible flowing from Lake Superior across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and along the entire eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan. Note also the band of lake effect snow flowing south from Lake Huron across Lake Erie where it intensifies and grows into a huge area of snow in northeastern Ohio and covering much of western Pennsylvania. Winds throughout the area were from the north-northwestNotes:
(1) Click! The Buffalonian
(2) Click! City-data
Otherwise compiled from USATODAY.com and www.Weather.com/encyclopedia/winter/lake.html.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friend Jenny Lezak and I were headed to Malabar Farm for a day’s event called Hearthside Cooking—a hand’s-on, annual peek at the colonial style of preparing a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.
We were greeted by friendly staff folks attired in period costumes and supported by nearly a dozen volunteers with cooking fires already ablaze in two large fireplaces and several outdoor primitive cook sites at the Pugh Cabin high on a forested hill near the sugar shack.
About 30 student cooks promptly assembled themselves in groups and began peeling, chopping, dicing, mixing and blending a commissary-full of ingredients that soon would turn into our lunch of sausage potato soup and cornbread with homemade butter; the soup slowly concocted then simmered to perfection in a large, cast-iron kettle over an open campfire.
“We prepare fresh all natural turkeys and hams raised here at Malabar Farm,” park naturalist Lisa Durham told the student cooks. “Many of the vegetables including our own fresh pumpkin, herbs and sweet potatoes also come from our gardens.”
Meanwhile, other ingredients under a carefully choreographed schedule would find their way to a host of Dutch-ovens, stacked sometimes in pairs and surrounded by glowing coals from the blazing wood fires.
Still others would wind-up in frying pans over open fires, simmering their way to a host of treats including such recipes as Cranberry Medley, Maple Baked Carrots, Corn Pudding and Irish Soda Bread.
This in addition to the turkey; some cooking in a reflecting oven at a near walk-in sized fireplace, others in cast iron pots simmering for hours over campfires—all scheduled for completion at an afternoon feast.
As a tired and hungry group of modern-day pioneers sat down to enjoy the results of their day-long labor, we were inspired by “A Thanksgiving Prayer” by Louis Bromfield which said, in part:
“...I thank you Lord for the gift of loving and being loved, for the friendliness and understanding and beauty of the animals on the farm and in the forest and marshes, for the green of the trees, the sound of a waterfall, the darting beauty of the trout in the brook...”
Thank you Mr. Louis Bromfield for making possible this rich heritage of your Malabar Farm.
In the photos from the top: Dutch Ovens are carefully tended near a huge fireplace in the Pugh Cabin. Ole flying friend and cooking student Dan Gregory mixes a bowl of yummy German Apple Cake. Potato Soup simmers in the large pot next below.
Nearing day’s end, naturalist Durham and Malabar Park Manager Louis Andres help in the feast’s layout and, bottom, an amply supplied plate heads toward a participant's dinner table.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
National news sources revealed Thursday the CEOs of the Big Three automakers flew private, luxury jets to Washington to plead for a $25 billion taxpayer bailout to save their debt-ridden industry.
Fox News reported, “Recipients of eight-figure bonuses in 2007, the corporate cowboys used their executive perks—which for GM’s Rick Wagoner include the run of a $36 million Gulfstream IV jet—to arrive in style as they went begging before congress.”
Wagoner’s flight reportedly cost $20,000 round trip—about 70 times more than a commercial airline ticket.
This on the heals of news about the pompous leadership in previously bailed-out money institutions attending lavish entertainment venues after securing their industry hand-outs from the public trough.
With leadership like that demonstrated by these lackeys of the corporate boardrooms, and their pompous cronies in Congress, it is no wonder our economy is in a shambles.
A Dutch Oven (bottom) is loaded with red-hot coals in the second fireplace used during the day’s event. Please stop by and enjoy both this popular, annual program and our celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Overload by Arthur Hailey
This oldie from 1979 is another in a long string of good reads by Hailey which included Airport, Hotel, Wheels, The Moneychangers, etc., all of which I enjoyed many years ago. Overload is a chilling look at where we could easily be if we do not escape our dependence on OPEC’s control of the oil supply. Hailey died in 2004 at the age of 84. He published 11 books in 40 countries and sold more than 170 million copies. I’ll be checking to be sure I haven’t missed reading any of them.
High Wire by Peter Gosselin
Subtitled “The precarious financial lives of American families” this book examines the disappearing safety nets that once protected US citizens from financial calamities. The vignettes of real people and their financial horrors were poignant but the bulk of the book was done in textbook-style which requires a strong scholarly instinct to make this either an informative or enjoyable read.
The Eleventh Man by Ivan Doig
This novel chronicles the heroics of a Montana college’s football team’s 11 varsity starters who go off to their death in World War II. The main character of the book is Ben Reinking, the son of the town’s newspaper editor who goes to war with his teammates but suffers the burden of surviving while he writes their individual stories. There is a “breath of actuality” to the book’s premise as 11 starting players from a Bozeman, MT college did perish in the war; thus blurring the line between truth and fiction.
The Flat Earth by Christine Garwood
Aristotle had it figured out before Christ was born, “Observation of the stars...shows not only that the earth is spherical but that it is of no great size....” Then, along comes PhD Garwood’s current tome in 436 pages of academic scribbling; seeking to evaluate all sides of the debate on the Earth’s shape. Never mind her book. Aristotle’s opinion is good enough for me.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
AN EASY WAY TO GO GREEN--
Composting will happen naturally whether you do anything or not. Just take a peek in the woods. Nature’s annual cycle of leaf/needle formation, then disposal, layers the forest floor with an abundant supply of organic material.
Periodically it rains. There are lots of insects and earthworms, and, there are a bazillion million microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi—the real soldiers in this recipe which ultimately leads to that marvelous “woods dirt” all gardeners crave.
That deliciously, nutrient-rich dark humus found on the floor of woods everywhere is natural compost—the Earth’s way of replenishing its own skin, so to speak. It’s commonly called top soil.
The fastest way to create your own form of compost is to burn a pile of leaves. That huge pile can be reduced to a tiny amount of ashes in minutes. But, that is not always practical or legal. Besides, it adds to the problem of air pollution.
Your compost pile works much slower than your bon-fire but it is much more environmentally friendly. After all, we are trying to “Go Green.”
Here’s how; and this is a good time of year to start. Start your compost pile in a convenient corner someplace, or, in a commercially available container designed for this purpose.
Add a layer of those leaves. Add a layer of those last grass clippings. Add a layer of those annual plants and debris from this year’s flower garden. Meanwhile collect your organic household waste; no grease, no fish, no meat or bones please. But, most everything else organic will work just fine.
Toss in your coffee grounds, paper filter and all. Toss in the contents of your sweeper bag. Pet hair, human hair and all those “science projects” your vacuum nabs are likely organic too. Crush your eggshells and chop up your fruit peels and add them to your heap.
Do not buy any “Compost starter” or other such silliness offered at your local garden center. Just toss a few shovels full of soil into your pile here and there. A pile of this random mixture will heat up and begin to decompose quite naturally.
If your pile starts to show evidence of lots of white mold or some sliminess it is not getting enough oxygen. Take your pitch fork and mix it up a bit. The moisture content of your pile should be about the same as a well wrung-out sponge.
With just a little effort you can be part of the magic process that turns household and natural waste around your property into rich, new humus that will be an extraordinarily valuable addition to your soil or garden and dispose of lots of your waste products in the process.
Still curious, click here! for the EPA’s take on this subject.
And, for a marvelous paperback primer on the delightful art and science of composting I recommend this book highly: Let It Rot, by Stu Campbell, Storey Books, Pownal, VT 05261 http://www.storey.com/
And, here is the finished product; incredibly nutrient-rich, soil-like humus. You can achieve this composted waste in a month or so if you simply keep your pile at the correct moisture content and turn it once in awhile with a favorite garden tool. If you produce lots of it, chisel it into your garden soil as a marvelous and natural source of fertilizer. If your production is more modest it can be a delightful supplement to your flower gardening.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
A link to the publisher will be included at the end of Saturday’s story. Please stop by. An improving environment could be your ultimate reward.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I am quite tired of hearing the national media slobbering such phrases as “...a mandate” when fawning over Sen. Barack Obama’s recent victory in the US presidential election.
Years ago, when I was director of elections in Richland County, it was a truism that elections were commonly won or lost by margins of 5 percent of the total votes cast.
I suspect that remains true to this day.
In this case Obama prevailed by a margin of just 6.5 percent.
Forty six point one percent of the voters preferred his opponent.
While Obama garnered some 65,400,000 votes nation-wide, 57,400,000 people voted against him.
Yes, it was an historic election and Sen. Obama clearly won.
The nation should be hopeful for an improvement in the quality of life for all Americans.
It should be hopeful we regain our status as a trusted member of the world’s community of nations.
I hope the president-elect does not confuse his inauguration with a coronation, and he proceeds with measured caution knowing nearly half of the voters were against him.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
War is firmly implanted in the fabric of our nation’s history.
The Revolutionary War gave birth to our country. That began in 1775 with skirmishes between the Minutemen and the British, and, ended with Cornwallis surrendering in Yorktown in 1781.
That war was rejoined with the British in 1812 with our young nation’s fight for freedom on the high seas. It ended in 1815 after a young US Navy Commodore named Perry beat the British in the battle of Lake Erie near Put-In-Bay and the Treaty of Ghent was later signed.
Few remember the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 which led to the annexation of California and New Mexico.
Just 13 years later we were engaged in a war with ourselves, The Civil War, which began with the Confederates firing on Fort Sumter in 1861 and ended with Lee’s surrender at Appomattox in 1865.
Meanwhile, wrapped around those violent epics were the near-continuous Indian Wars whose dates history has assigned as being from 1775 to 1890. Remember such Chieftain names as Pontiac and Tecumseh, or a white guy named Custer and a place called Little Big Horn?
In 1898 we were engaged in War with Spain which began with the sinking of the US battleship Maine in Havana harbor. It ended with the Treaty of Paris, ratified in 1899 and brought Guam and Puerto Rico under US influence where they remain to this day.
By 1917 we were drawn into World War I which actually began in Europe in 1914. Those hostilities ceased November 11, 1918. That one was known as the War to End all Wars. Ha.
Once again, a mere 23 years passed after the “War to End all Wars” until we were engaged in World War II; commencing with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and ending with their surrender in August 1945.
This dismal parade continued with:
--The Korean War, 1950-1953.
--The Vietnam War; Golf of Tonkin Resolution 1964 to fall of the US Embassy in Saigon, 1975.
--The Persian Gulf War #1, August 1990-April 1991.
--The War on Terrorism; from the September 11, 2001 attacks to present.
--The Persian Gulf War #2, March 2003 to present.
Any historical compilation is subjective.
We could have mentioned the Barbary Wars of the early 1800s, or skirmishes with Granada, Panama and Haiti, or, how about The Cold War with a beginning often traced to the Berlin Blockade of 1948 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989—a period during which nuclear Armageddon was never far from our minds.
How about Bosnia in the recent past. Some will claim that was not a war, but, don’t debate that with families who lost loved ones there.
Today, the majority of the population of our country is under the age of 25. Those folks have relatively little life’s experience to call on, and with the deplorable teaching of history in today’s classrooms, very little historical knowledge either.
There is an old saying that folks who do not learn the lessons of history are bound to repeat its mistakes.
With my apologies to the younger generations, I am glad I am the age I am.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
In Saturday’s feature story Fogeyisms takes a look at our history of war.
With the approach of Veteran’s Day 2008 please join us in this salute to all of our country’s veterans, and our sadness for the fact that war has played such a prominent role in our history.
The Bellville Cemetery grave marker at left is marked “Capt. Jos. Johnson, Ohio Mil(ita), War (of) 1812”.
Please rest in peace Captain Johnson.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
NAVIGATING THE BLOG—
In the upper left corner of each blog item there is a search box. It works very much like your favorite web search engine.
If you would like to find a piece on a particular subject, type that subject’s name; like “Bicycling” or “Eagles” etc., in the box and click “Search Blog”. The same will work with a person’s name I have mentioned in blog articles.
You also can use the “Blog Archive” column on the right of each page to get around. The most recent blogs are listed by topic. Just click the one you want to see. You can travel to specific months in similar fashion.
To return to the most recent blog, click the top subject listed in that column.
Naturally, with your cursor on the blog page simply rotating its wheel will scroll the page up or down.
Putting your cursor on a picture should change your cursor into the live link symbol. Click the left button and the photo should appear in a larger size on your screen. Why this does not work with all pictures is beyond my ability to explain.
If you like the photo and want to save a copy to your computer, right click the enlarged image and click “Save As”. That will open a dialog box and you will have to select where you want the picture to reside on your system, then, click “Save”.
While I am not too fussy about copywrites I do request you use my photos only for your personal enjoyment.
Please enjoy the blog. I enjoy producing it and am delighted to have you as a reader.
If you are a regular reader I would enjoy knowing that too. Simply click “View My Complete Profile” under my picture on the bottom of the right column. On the “Blogger” screen that comes up select “Email” in the Contact box.
I will really enjoy hearing from you.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Another sign of the inexorable change of seasons occurred yesterday when several Juncos made their annual appearance at my birdfeeders.
These sparrow-sized birds left here in the spring; migrating to their breeding territory in the far north from Alaska to Newfoundland. While many of them will winter in Ohio others of their species will go south as far as the gulf states and northern Mexico.
They are uniformly gray or brownish gray on top and on the breast which then shows a sharp line of demarcation to a white abdomen. They usually show a pinkish bill and will flash white along the sides of the tail feathers in flight.
Small flocks of ten to twenty birds are not uncommon at my birdfeeders.
It's nice to see them arrive, but I will be even happier when it is time for their next departure.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Regardless of how alert I try to keep myself to current events the change back to standard time snuck up on me this year.
I was wrestling myself awake this morning when the little clock on the face of my computer told me I should be back in bed for at least another hour. It said 4 something a.m.--a totally uncivilized time for that first cup of coffee.
I stumbled back to the bedroom to check the alarm clock and see what time it really was and discovered my timepieces were in serious disagreement.
The dispute was settled when I checked all three of the radio controlled clocks and they agreed.
It really was 4 something a.m.
After fiddling with the computer for awhile I flopped onto the couch with book in hand and soon my body was zzzz-ing itself back toward harmony with my assorted timepieces, which, of course, demanded I then wrestle with the semi-annual task of getting them all synchronized.
They included the alarm clock, range, microwave, two watches, a portable radio, the answering machine, the truck radio and the timer for the outside lights (plus the aforementioned "atomic" clocks which didn't need my attention)...
...an absolutely insane collection for a retired guy who 95 percent of the time doesn’t really care what time it is anyhow.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
A BIG WALK IN THE WOODS—
It was one of those sunny, fall days when I was enjoying a severe dose of insanity that I decided to hike the combined bridle and advanced ski trail which encircles Malabar Farm for 4.5 miles.
Four and a half very hilly miles.
I should have known I was in trouble when the farm’s cartographers provided a map with north at the bottom; a violation of map publishing protocol usually avoided by even the most amateurish of that group.
Regardless, I headed up the wooded hill in a southerly, counterclockwise direction from the visitor’s center and was promptly rewarded with a sun dappled trail (above) where deer tracks were as obvious as those of horseshoes and the sounds of civilization were blessedly silenced.
I crossed a meadow high up there behind Louie’s big house and encountered two gals on horseback from Medina who stopped for a friendly chat. They were traveling the trail clockwise and I would meet them later almost exactly on the opposite side of our route.
That meant, of course, I had managed to travel at nearly the same velocity they had achieved with their mounts. They seemed proud of me; gray hair and all.
A bit after our first conversational interlude I popped into the next woods and found a dump-truck sized cairn of stones, far from any field’s edge. Curious. Could it be some farmer from ages gone by had cleared his field of these stones, and then his cultivations were overtaken by the re-growth of this forest?
Or was it, in fact, a monument to some ageless burial?
Deeper in the same woods I found a mature wild cherry tree perched on top of a huge sandstone-like rock formation. Most cherry trees with which I am familiar seem to prefer installing their roots in rich soil.
Shortly after reacquiring evidence of civilization, I crossed Bromfield Rd., and came across five horses tethered to trees. As I was making myself noisily apparent to these restless critters I noticed campers in the background.
They were a mom and pop with two teenage sons from Port Clinton enjoying a two-day, horsy campout. We shared a hearty laugh when I confessed we usually head to their area for our touristy amusements.
A ways down the trail heading through the woods east then south then east again, my reverie was destroyed by the sound of human voices. I listened intently then the innocence of their arrival was announced by a horse’s whinny—a nice young couple from Amherst; themselves enjoying some camping with their riding.
Near trailhead C far above the farm’s Sugar Shack I searched for the remnants of the Ferguson Cabin; the domicile of a colorful recluse from time gone by. I could not find the site but the last time I visited it was but a square shaped dig where the foundation once was located.
Farther east I did find the gorge of the Ferguson Falls. It must be a truly beautiful sight when water cascades the rocks and splashes the now-dry pool far below.
Heading downhill from the Sugar Maple Plantation it was a relief to my weary muscles when the trail slowly morphed into a track somewhat usable by vehicles then, finally, a gravel road of sorts as the Sugar Shack came into view.
I was relieved to be near completion of the arduous trek—totally devoid of fellow hikers—when I re-encountered civilization in the form of a guy in his trendy apparel and speeding convertible buzzing toward me on the Sugar Shack Road.
I scampered behind a nearby tree and seriously considered heading back into the woods.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
MARY JANE’S GRAVE
...Some haunting Halloween folklore
Deep in the heavily wooded bowels of Monroe Township down near Malabar Farm lies the origin of some of the county’s most enduring folklore. Or, could these many stories possibly be true?
Somewhere in desolate Mt. Olive Cemetery are the interred remains of Mary Jane Hendrickson. Legend has it Mary was buried there in 1898 after she was burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft.
Or, was it 1793 as one history has it, when she was hanged then buried for the same offense.
A large pine tree near her grave has been known to bleed; many times, according to oft repeated tales.
One version of her story holds she was not a witch as often alleged and did not die by being burned at the stake—or hanged. She was the servant of a man who owned a large quantity of area property and after she had served him many years he gave her a piece of land near the cemetery where she lived the reclusive and simple life of an herbalist.
Another story adds, all unusual sightings near the grave are the result of a nearby Indian burial ground from which spirits are dismayed by the noisy visitors.
Then there is this story: Supposedly one night four guys went down there and three of them had been drinking. The drinkers peed on the big pine tree behind her grave. On their way home the three guys that peed on her tree died in a car accident, but the one guy who didn’t pee on her tree lived.
Then there is this: In 1992 a visitor to the cemetery was driving a new Camaro down the road to the cemetery when he saw what he thought was a ghost, and, his car died. After the ghost disappeared in the woods, his car restarted.
Who knows; creepy hocus pocus or truly unexplainable phenomena? I’m inclined to believe the former, but, each time I chuckle with indifference to this silliness, the hair on my arms stands up and the lights dim.
Ed. Note: Perhaps a fitting, final chapter to this lore would be documented stories of Mary Jane paying personal visits to the miscreants who have vandalized her final resting place.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
MAJOR LEAGUE BALLPLAYERS and
...a disgusting habit
With my new satellite TV service I have watched the baseball playoffs and the World Series.
In fact, I’ve seen more games in the past month than I’ve see in my entire adult life.
I’ve also been repulsed by many player's absolutely uncivilized habit of spitting, everywhere—even more often than I’ve noted them scratching their crotches.
They say baseball is our “national pastime”? I hope the rest of the world does not reach any conclusions about our civility if they have noticed this shameful conduct.
Makes me wish for a return to my old, TV antenna reception.
That picture was usually so snowy this deplorable conduct was not visible.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Egad. I looked out the window this morning and it was, well, snowing! Egad. Yup, happens every year about this time. In fact, today’s disgusting surprise has already been preceded by several frosty mornings.
Actually, I don’t really mind the white stuff—up until about New Year’s Day. Then, I begin to have severe visions of palm trees dancing gently in tropical breezes.
For those of you who live in such sub-tropical grandeur, especially the ones with a tendency to laugh at our seasonal shivers; I hope the ice cubes in your beverages melt prematurely.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Dave Kana, sax
Rollie Harper, drums
Brandon Enderby, 15, and Wilbur Kress, bass
Mr. Bo Jangles
Hey Good Lookin'
Time After Time, and
...in an afternoon of soul soothing music at the library.