Saturday, March 29, 2008


I am worried about my friends in Taiwan. A New York Times headline last week said “Taiwan Elects a Leader Who Seeks Closer China Ties”.

That’s about as safe as kissing a Cobra.

Here’s a little history: The Nationalist Chinese were our allies in the Pacific Theater of World War II. While they were helping us defeat the Japanese they were fighting their own revolution against the Communist Chinese on the mainland.

They lost that revolution in 1949 and the Nationalist government escaped to Taiwan (then known as Formosa). To protect our ally, the US Navy for years patrolled the 100 mile wide straits between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland while the Nationalists established a government in exile.

The Communist Chinese have been threatening the island with war ever since. They simply regard the free Chinese as a break-away province and their rightful possession.

Meanwhile, the Taiwanese evolved toward a democratic form of government and created an economy among global giants—all from an island about 1/3 the size of Ohio with virtually zero natural resources.

I learned to really appreciate their success when I led a 16 member Economic and Goodwill Mission to Taiwan in April 1986 to celebrate our new sister-county relationship with Taipei County.

We found and for 10 days thoroughly sampled a society and government which cherished their freedom and had boundless energy in pursuing their prospering economic system.

Now, a mere 59 years after escaping the clutches of communisum in their mainland home they appear willing to dilute the dream of independence and are beginning to sniff at a renewed relationship with the very folks who advocate being their masters.

Ironically, this is happening while other headlines are blaring about Communist China’s brutal supression of the people of Tibet which once enjoyed its own independence before being dominated by the Communists.

I hope some persuasive folks in Taiwan read a few history books before it is too late.

A 45 minute chat with then Vice President of the Republic of China, Lee Teng-hui in a capital building reception room was a featured element of our 1986 visit to Taipei. That is he and yours truly in the center of the photo. Lee went on to serve as president of the country from 1988 to 2000.

Dr. James Chen from Ashland, a member of our delegation and native of Taiwan is on the far left beside my Chinese counterpart, Lin, Fong-cheng, Magistrate of Taipei County. Lou Fritz (right) was then president of the Richland Economic Development Corp., and responsible for helping us create our Sister County Relationship with Taipei County. (Photo courtesy Nationalist Chinese Government)

Thursday, March 27, 2008


In 1986, while a Richland County Commissioner, I led an Economic and Goodwill Mission to Taipei County, Taiwan, Republic of China in celebration of our Sister County Relationship. Here I am answering the welcoming remarks of my counterpart Lin, Fong-Cheng, Magistrate of Taipei County (to my left).

To my right are 3 of our 15 delegation members: Ed Meehan, then Mayor of Mansfield, Bill Hartnett, then President of the Mansfield/Richland Area Chamber of Commerce and Lou Fritz, then President of the Richland Economic Development Corporation.

Saturday we will take a peek at some consequences of the recent election of Taiwan’s new president. Please join us for Fogeyisms’ first international excursion.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Shrillary is at it again.

Major news outlets Tuesday continued to carry the story of Ms. Clinton’s latest self-aggrandizing political remark--this one involving what turns out to be her concocted story of her “heroic” 1996 arrival in Bosnia while running from sniper fire.

Video news coverage of that event revealed she, as then first lady, actually walked across the tarmac of the arrival airport and had a chat with an 8 year old child and Bosnia’s then acting president.

While she is prone to flick this off with a regal hand gesture as a mere misspeak, evidence reveals she told the same pathetic tale at an Iowa event on December 29th and again in Waco, TX February 29th.

Fox News said, “That claim was repeated during a speech last which Clinton said of the trip: ‘I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into vehicles to get to our base’.”

“Clinton’s faulty memory was also corrected by the comedian Sinbad, who joined her on the trip and told The Washington Post he doesn’t remember any threats to their safety,” Fox news continued.

Later Clinton told reporters she disagrees with characterizations that she is pursuing a pattern of exaggeration.

Why does this remind me of her consort when he pointed directly at the TV cameras on that infamous day and said, “I did not have sex with that lady (Lewinsky)?”

Campaign utterances by either of this pair are often perilously close to qualifying as air pollution.

Folks in less polite society would call this latest one of hers lying.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


American Creation by Joseph J. Ellis

How did the Founding Fathers create and install the finest form of government in history? How did they achieve a stunning defeat of the British in the Revolutionary War? Why, in the creation of this republic did they fail to solve the problem of slavery? Why did they fail to fairly accommodate the Indian natives? If you enjoy US history this is a dandy read.

America 1908 by Jim Rasenberger

A nice frolic through the US—exactly 100 years ago. While the Wright brothers had flown 5 years earlier, flight still remained a myth and a dream for most Americans. Peary was making a dash to the North Pole, Teddy Roosevelt was flexing America’s growing naval muscle, and young Henry Ford introduced the Model T. It’s a nifty chronicle of our country’s arrival on the world stage.

No Reservations by Anthony Bourdain

This guy superficially squandered an interesting thesis—sampling the world’s culinary and culture delights in a romp around the globe. And he stooped to the use of base language which, as usual, simply exposes one’s inability to express themselves intelligently. Lots of photos—mostly a poor copy of National Geographic’s outstanding stuff; especially the near countless ones that contained the author’s mug. Leave this one at the library.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

After a nuclear holocaust a plane load of children crash on a deserted island and struggle successfully with their survival—until they begin to act like adults. It is a fictional tale posing as a sociological examination with a science fiction flavor in the early pages. The next time I have the urge for a read in this genre I’ll pick up another Jules Verne.

The Trivial Variety—

The human heart beats more than 100,000 times each day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Stained glass window courtesy The Lexington Presbyterian Church c. 1905

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A female Bald Eagle glides across the sky along the shore of the Clear Fork Reservoir near Lexington during a visit by a group of the bird’s enthusiasts following a recent program conducted by Jan Ferrell (below), a naturalist at the Gorman Nature Center.


In the latter half of the 1900s the insecticide DDT and other pesticides decimated the Bald Eagle population of Ohio.

Folks my age remember nesting eagles at Charles Mill Lake in the mid to late 50s. Then they were gone. As recently as 1999 there were no active nests in Richland County and only a handful throughout the state.

Our Nation’s symbol was nearly extinct in the state and was on the endangered species list.

Now these majestic birds have reestablished active breeding in Ohio. In 2000 their recovery revealed 63 nests. By 2006 there were over 550 eagles in the state. That number exceeded 600 last year.

Also, in 2006, Richland County enjoyed its first, known successful nest of this era. Eagle chicks were hatched and fledged near Mifflin. “Today, there are four known, active nests in the county,” smiled Jan Ferrell (left), a naturalist on the staff of the Gorman Nature Center.

After a recent presentation at the center Ferrell led about 20 eagle enthusiasts on a visit to an active nest on the shore of the Clear Fork Reservoir near Lexington. We squished our way through rapidly melting snow about ¼ mile from a parking area to within sight of the nest tree.

With the trees barren of leaves a nest some 6 feet or more in diameter and several feet thick is hard to miss. These huge nests, after several years of reconstruction and use have been known to exceed a ton in weight.

And, this nest was occupied—by both birds of this nesting pair. Ferrell believed the first egg was laid March 14th. The birds usually will lay a second egg, and sometimes a third, in two day increments. Incubation takes 35 days.

While the smaller male stayed hunkered on the egg(s), his head barely visible above the rim of the nest, the female treated us to several flying romps, usually landing on a high snag in a tree about 100 yards away from her excited visitors.

Lots of cameras, binoculars and spotting scopes got lots of use in absorbing this naturally beautiful, visual treat.

While the birds are no longer on the endangered list they are federally protected and enthusiasts should give their nesting areas a wide berth.

Ferrell pointed out a dozen or so of these stunning birds—with wing spans usually exceeding 7 feet—can often be spotted fishing in the open waters of the Pleasant Hill Dam spillway.

Look carefully at that big bird you may see soaring overhead and do not be surprised at your excitement if you notice it sports a brilliant white head and tail.

The female eagle exchanges incubation duties with her smaller consort who is just barely visible above the rim of the nest (center). She will average 15 pounds in weight while the male will be closer to 10 pounds and they, who mate for life, enjoy a typical lifespan of 40 years.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

SOARING EAGLES in Richland County will be the feature in Saturday’s blog. Here, Jan Ferrell, a naturalist at the Gorman Nature Center, focuses her spotting scope on a nesting pair at the Clear Fork Reservoir. Stop by and join us in celebrating the growing population of these majestic birds in Ohio.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


American society continues to wring its hands and toe the dust of failed policies in its search for safety from criminals with guns.

The answer could be found in the simple expedient of reflecting on our history.

Our Founding Fathers launched this, the most spectacularly successful exercise of freedom in the form of a government that human history has ever known.

The bedrock document responsible for this US of A is our Constitution and its first 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights.

The prominence our founding fathers placed on the 2nd Amendment, The Right to Keep and Bear Arms, is chronologically obvious by its being preceded by only one other amendment, the first one, which guarantees our freedoms of religion, speech, the press, to peaceably assemble, and, to petition the government for a redress of our grievances.

And, the 2nd Amendment does not simply grant us the freedom to bear arms. It goes far beyond that, recognizing that right is so fundamental in a free country that:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The right is automatic, therefore they said the “…right… …shall not be infringed.”

They recognized the “right” existed as surely and fundamentally as the laws of nature.

It did not have to be created by their new document.

And, they sought to preserve that right by the pure and simple language, “…shall not be infringed”.

Yes, there were bad guys back then in the late 1700s, not only criminals but tyrannical governments, and armed free men were the only device that could guarantee the acquisition and retention of safety and freedom.

In the case of our country we know it finally took The American Revolution to gain that freedom.

Now, some 230 years later, the US Supreme Court today begins to hear the case, D.C. v. Heller in which this freedom should be addressed as the central issue, and our society, long fettered by countless thousands of laws that trump this fundamental provision of our Constitution, could once again enjoy the freedom envisioned by our Founding Fathers.

Will this court display wisdom like that of the Founders who laid the very foundation for the laws of this land?

Our future safety and freedom depend on a positive answer to that question.

Monday, March 17, 2008


A squadron of Canada Geese launch the annual ritual of deciding which pair claims territorial and breeding rights on the still ice-clad pond. Eventually, the dominate couple will nest on the island—a goose version of a delicious honeymoon retreat.
The ice is almost always gone by March 15th—but not this year.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


The huge draft horses (above) clopity-thumped their wagon loads of visitors to and from the sugar camp in the wooded Malabar Farm hills where steam hissed from the syrup processing shed like a hot tub on steroids.

These warm early spring days and cold nights set the Maple tree sap flowing and buckets or sap collection lines sprout in the woods like spring mushrooms.

More than 600 trees are tapped at the farm. Depending on sugar concentration, it takes about 43 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup.

Visitors to the annual syrup festival scampered from their horse-drawn carriages and were treated to a Native American reenactment of early syrup production where the “Malabar Tribe’s” very own Black Dog (bottom) described the process of putting the sap in hollowed out logs and steaming it into syrup by placing red hot rocks in the fluid.

In another historic demonstration in the snow-covered woods, ladies, some in pioneer garb (upper right) showed how the syrup was stored in sugar form for longer preservation.

The third stop in the festival area was the sugar shack itself, a very modern iteration of syrup production nicely wrapped in rustic, wooded architecture. Here a large stainless steel evaporator sitting atop a red-hot wood fire does the chore of turning the sap into syrup—taste tested all day by the visitors like youngsters in a candy shop.

Park Manager Louis Andres (lower right) treats visitors to a description of the heart of the syrup production system. “We produce approximately 100 gallons of maple syrup each season,” he noted.

The thin sap snakes it way through the baffles in the evaporator, slowly losing its moisture content until it is finally drawn off in the form of that delicious liquid gold we enjoy at breakfast.

In the near-by Pugh Cabin complex visitors had the opportunity to purchase their very-own share of the farm’s syrup production while folks from the Richland County Museum displayed typical life experiences of the pioneer period.

This year’s festival was the 31st annual event for the popular program. It was scheduled the first two weekends in March.

For more on Malabar Farm activities check here:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

SATURDAY: A visit to the Malabar Sugar Shack

Folks dressed in period costume show how maple syrup was produced years ago. They were part of the recent Malabar Farm syrup festival where displays ranged from primitive syrup production to full operation of their modern sugar-shack. Please stop by Saturday and enjoy our tour.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Over a foot of snow paralized much of Ohio Saturday, setting records in most areas of the state.

I peeked the camera out the front door to make this image showing an earlier effort to shovel a path around the front of the house, across the upper deck and down to the barn where bird seed is stored.

Please note the complete absence of any other human tracks in the snow.

A regiment of happy birds, though, applauded that effort to keep their commissary restocked.

Our earlier Spring-like weather was further insulted with overnight low temperatures in the single digits.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Reloading ammo is a sport that has come a long way since frontiersmen used to do it on the run with their flintlocks.

Today, instead of powder horns and lead balls the ammunition reloader uses a wide range of very sophisticated tools to create cartridges that often out perform those from the major ammo manufacturers.

Local NRA Instructor and shooting range owner Dave Baker has been reloading more than 40 years. He believes, “About 2 shooters out of 100 are active reloaders and estimates they save about 30 per cent of the cost of factory ammunition.”

“There are several other advantages,” he continued. “It is a very nice hobby by itself, which often leads to more shooting which itself leads to better marksmanship. And, it allows the reloader to experiment on developing the best load possible for his guns.”

Some reloaders enjoy the hobby in order to reload ammo that is no longer on the open market, thus allowing them to continue to enjoy grandpa’s old and reliable fire arm.

Every gun will demonstrate its own preference for specific ammo. The reloader, by carefully chosing between a wide variety of powders and an even wider variety of bullets and primers, plus, adjusting the powder load within carefully measured limitations can zero in on a load that is safest and most accurate for his gun.

“A person new to the process should always work with an experienced reloader at the beginning,” Baker cautioned. The process has its perils for a careless hobbyist. He has the remnants of a .44 caliber revolver that exploded on his range because it was accidently loaded by that shooter with twice the normal powder charge.”

Fortunately, because of his constant focus on shooting safety, Baker’s range is equipped with steel baffles between shooting positions which prevented the incident from injuring nearby shooters.

Some folks refer to such guns as that .44 as “Spontaneously disassembled,” he quipped.

Baker has a Dillon Progressive Press which uses a turret of four dies to somewhat automate the hand-powered process. The old primer is extracted, the empty brass is resized for the new bullet, a new primer is pressed into place, the powder charge is loaded and the new projectile is crimped into place.

After a careful set-up and testing of the first few loads, Baker can load about 400 bullets per hour and loads mostly for his range customers.

Examples of other tools in the process include a tumbler that cleans the previously fired brass and allows for its inspection, precision micrometers and calipers for bullet and brass measurements and a digital scale for precise calibration of powder measure.

Some reloaders add a chronograph to their stable. This is an instrument that measures the velocity of a fired projectile. Yup, you simply fire the bullet past the instrument and it will tell you that bullet was traveling, say, 1053 feet per second.

Powder loads used in the reloading process can produce pressures in your gun exceeding 30,000 pounds per square inch.

You want to do this stuff very carefully indeed.

.357 magnum 115 grain, semi-jacketed hollow point bullets are pictured on the left. On the right are finished, .357 cartridges.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


…when, while standing in the kitchen and preparing supper, there is a horrible, crashing thunk just over your head, and, while doing a tactical retreat from the noise you watch a tree branch penetrate the ceiling.

This was the day after a mild ice storm and a 14 hour power outage. But, this particular branch finally succumbed to the weight of the ice.

I have the good fortune contractor son Brian lives nearby and a robust patching job was soon accomplished—compliments of he and his crew, my grandson Dane and daughter-in-law Kate.

I was reminded of the old saying:

“I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Dave Baker, owner of Bake’s Best Shot, a shooting emporium near Lexington will join us Saturday and offer a peek at ammunition reloading. Baker, a NRA Certified Instructor and reloader with over 40 years experience will show us how to safely assemble ammo, the home-made way. Please stop by.

Editor's Note: We're a little tardy with our post this morning. A moderate ice storm Tuesday was sufficient to snuff our electric service from 8 p.m. last evening through about 10 a.m. or so today.

Monday, March 3, 2008


The election pundits never cease to amaze me. These days we often read of their speculation about Republicans crossing over to vote for Obama in many primaries; the theory being--no matter how noble--they are anxious to rid the political process of the Clinton(s) once and for all.

That’s insane when Obama is already favored to beat McCain—the GOP presumptive nominee—by a large margin this fall.

If Republicans were trying to manipulate the Democrat nomination don’t you think they would be trying to nominate the weaker candidate?

And, this sheds light on an even more pertinent problem--

--which is; this scenario is a clear demonstration of why many states have closed primary elections. The primaries are for political parties to choose their candidates for the fall election.

When voters can freely participate in the other party’s nominating process the kind of electoral mischief alleged above is not only possible but likely.

This is the same as having members of the Bengals football team in the Brown’s locker room at half-time.

That’s how Ohio’s semi-open primary voting process works. Any voter, regardless of their party voting history, can ask for any party’s ballot in the primary.

That needs fixed.


As a former elections official I fear we could be heading toward embarrassing turmoil in Cleveland election night.

They have had several political tugs-of-war with Ohio’s Secretary of State of late; the most recent being her forcing them to replace their recently acquired, multi-million dollar voting system with one more to her liking.

Naturally, she thought this latest system would get its first test in a fairly obscure election where the winning presidential candidates would have been chosen long before the primary contest arrived in Ohio this year.

Now, with the Clintons struggling to preserve their political dynasty, Ohio has been thrust into the limelight as the vote count here could be the death knell for that once pre-ordained campaign and the world will be watching us very closely tomorrow night.

Where things often go astray when all is working normally, they will be running an untested voting system with only about 60 days of preparation. Already they have had a failure in vote counting with one of their optical scanners reading the paper ballots *gasp* they will be using for the first time since election antiquity.

I shudder to think what might happen up there as I recall the vote counting fiasco the country recently endured in a Florida presidential election.

Let’s hope I am wrong.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

In spite of my assertion that Spring arrives today, Mother Nature continues to pummel us with Winter-like weather. This is Max doing some exploration while he and I worked our way out to the road after Thursday’s snow. Then, as if to slam-dunk the following postulate as ill-advised, we got treated to an additional 3 inches of snow yesterday. And so it goes.


When I posed this question recently at the local watering hole, everyone’s favorite answer was, “When the custard stand opens!”

So much for those scientific urges.

Actually, the astronomical answer is on that March day known as the Spring Equinox which is when the sun crosses the Equator on its annual “migration” northward and everywhere the days and nights are equal in length. “Equinox = equal nights”.

In our hemisphere and because the Earth is tilted 23.5 degrees on its axis in relation to the plane of our orbit around the sun, we watch our days get steadily longer from December to June and steadily shorter from June to December.

This year as the sun drifts our way that magic day occurs March 20th. Now, don’t expect your local hours of daylight chart to show exactly 12 hours of daylight and darkness on that day. There always will be a few minutes variation because this measurement is taken when the sun actually pierces the horizon and not everyone has an identical horizon to view.

Plus, the Earth’s atmosphere distorts those nifty sun beams—exactly the same phenomenon that gave us a reddish glow to the eclipsed Moon just a week or so ago.

However, I don’t fret much about such things. I think the meteorologists have a much tidier answer. Spring begins on March 1st and includes the months of April and May. Summer is then June through August. And so forth—the seasons being incrementally three months long year round.

Besides, who can ever fault Spring arriving several weeks early!