Saturday, January 31, 2009


Fourteen adults and one pooch scampered up a very steep and snow covered trail in the annual Mohican State Park winter hike recently.

During a lull in our ascent I told my hiking companion, Lynn Rush, “I hope to get to Heaven some day, but, I didn’t expect to climb there today.”

She and my nearby trekkers chuckled and the pooch frolicked in a shower of snow while I tried to get my heart-rate under control.

Nearly a hundred of us did a similar hike last year. But, not with a foot of snow on the ground.

After a kilometer or so of steep ascent I wondered if we were getting close to Coshocton.

And that pooch, I swear, smiled at me while he paused to water a near-by sapling and I was leaning breathlessly on another tree.

Periodically our ascent would intersect a mountain bike trail up on that ridge. I would have trouble getting up there on an escalator. In good weather.

We watched for eagles and deer known to be well represented in the forest. But mostly I stared at the ground pondering the next safe place for my 704,239th foot step.

How can you go on a hike with three fourths of your steps being uphill, I wondered? That doesn’t seem possible. But, it is.

High on the ridge I savored the vista of the next ridge south...the silence...the soft green of the hemlock adding a splash of life to the deciduous skeletons all around.

Reward is often the product of effort.

Finally, Jim South of the hike sponsoring Mohican Trails Club, paused at a fork in the trail and announced 5k hikers should go that way and pointed down, down, down what looked to me like a ski jump studded with a bazillion trees.

About a third of us selected that route. The rest of the Sasquatch crowd opted for the full 10k stroll.

“Jim” I asked, “If I simply lay down here and roll will I wind up near the campground commissary?”

That was a mirthful question but I hoped my spaghetti-like muscles would appreciate my sense of humor.
Ohio State Parks regional manager Louis Andres (left), Lynn Rush and Cheryl South warm up with refreshments during our hike's very snowy winter day at the Mohican State Park Campground.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fourteen adults (some of questionable sanity) and one pooch recently did a very-snowy annual hike in the hills at the Mohican State Park Campground. Stop by Saturday and struggle along with Fogeyisms in this local version of a self-propelled Iditarod. See the pooch, a very spry Golden Retriever with the hiker in the orange hat, middle.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Leisureville by Andrew D. Blechman

Sub-titled “Adventures in America’s Retirement Utopias” Blechman takes a piercing look at both TheVillages, the world’s largest, gated retirement community in FL, and Sun City in Phoenix, AZ, one of the earliest such developments. These communities tend to be highly insular and governed in ways often surprising to the residents. This is an important read if you are headed toward alternatives for retirement living.

In the Land of Invisible Women by Qanta A. Ahmed, MD

Subtitled A Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom; Qanta, a British Muslim, temporarily loses her US visa and takes a position in a Riyadh hospital as a pilgrimage back to her faith. She experiences living in a temporary city of 50 thousand tents during Hajj. She experiences a culture where women spend lifetimes incarcerated in guarded privacy and secrecy—where the Mutawaeen “Culture Police” enforce the social code with violence. It is a stunning and eloquently crafted peek at a mysterious culture.

The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille

The title describes the north shore of Long Island once the lair of old east aristocracy, now in decline and penetrated by a Mafia don seeking legitimacy. It is over 700 pages of passion, criminal and legal suspense—a great story line, but often in need of a good editor. Demille redeemed himself with a great ending to this tome’s mind-numbing middle.

Shadow Command by Dale Brown

Brimming with action, sophisticated weaponry, and political intrigue, according to a major newspaper review. I agree. But, the ending was as if it was attached to the wrong book. That’s enough Brown for me for awhile.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Loudonville's Main Street was awash in the sparkles of ice statues that weekend.

There was a hand carved ice eagle in front of the Eagle's Lodge.

And a diamond-like replica of the log cabin in front of the town's cabin on the square.

And, a glittering and very wise owl in front of...well, the library of course.

They were part of a menangerie of 31 chilly creations frolicing about town for it's 4th annual Ice Festival.

The folks at the Chamber of Commerce picked a good weekend for that celebration. Overnight temperatures had flirted with 20 below zero and thoroughly bundled folks enjoyed the show in light snow, a brisk wind and noon day temps in the teens.

Aaron Costic from his firm Elegant Ice Creations Inc., up near Cleveland delighted the crowd with an hourly demonstration, using a magical chain saw and a host of other ice surgery tools to transform multiple hundred pound blocks of ice into jewels that would have made Paul Bunyon proud.

Costic and his helper whittled with enthusiasm each hour. He was even more enthusiastic when he told of zipping down to Loudonville often during summer weekends for the more leisurely enjoyment of being in the rolling, vacation-land's country setting.

Believe it or not, they stay busy with ice carving year-round. After the winter festivals there come spring and summer holidays, and proms and weddings, and corporate celebrations. Then there are loads of fancy private parties that need garnished, and fancy restaurants to attend to and soon the icy holidays arrive, then, its festival season once more.

Chamber officials opined 1,000 visitors to their nifty village festival would be nice. I made no effort to count the folks on Main St. My glasses were chattering. But, it certainly was busier than downtown Mansfield on most any business day.

After a discussion about the weekend's abusive but welcomed, Arctic weather, I suggested to Jeanne Leckrone, office manager of the Chamber they consider having next year's ice carnival in a more temperate month like, say, June.

She smiled, conspiratorily, but we agreed the logistics of enjoying ice carving that month would be challenging.

If you have never been to their event, do yourself a favor. Ask Santa for some electric long-johns, the 220 volt variety, and watch for next year's schedule here. In January!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mansfield's WMFD-TV camerman Archie McMillan does an interview with Jeanne Leckrone of the Loudonville Chamber of Commerce regarding that village's recent Ice Festival. Stop by Saturday for the story and pictures of this chilly but sparkling event.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Winter was angry in Ohio the past few days.

Multiple snow events left us with nearly a foot of snow on the ground as you can see in the top photo while Max and I tended the bird feeders during a brief interlude of sunshine.

Even the usual wren inhabitants of the nesting box haven’t stirred in the winter chill long enough to shovel their front porch perch. Of course, the sensible members of the Carolina clan of these birds likely fled to the southernmost area of their range some time ago.

The recording thermometer shows an overnight temperature at a bone-chilling minus 14.3 degrees. It actually bottomed out at -15.7 but by then I was back under the covers with a good book trying to ignore that frigid information.

A Coleman camp lantern served nicely as a supplemental heater and allowed the furnace some well-deserved, periodic rest periods. Max and I appreciated the work of both of those appliances.

Regardless of winter’s tantrum Mother Nature still blessed us with some frosty artistry on the bathroom window pane.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The starter with his leisurely bent-leg posture is a visual clue to the casualness of a New Year’s Day drag race. The aging Chrysler sedan about to huff-and puff its way down the right racing lane is another one. Two more clues to this laid-back event are visible in the lower photo: Note the passenger in the car (lower left) while contestants practice some bonhomie in the staging lanes.

Drag Racing, Genteel Style--

The boys at Dragway 42’s vintage racing facility up near West Salem sounded like racers at that 10th annual event.

An ever-moving herd of them lurched modestly up the staging lanes; the noise of gunning engines rippling from here to there as playful feet bumped the accelerators.

One clue to the oddity of this drag race is the date itself; New Year’s Day—in Ohio—with snow covered ground and temps struggling through the mid 20s, hence the name including the word “Hangover”.

Another oddity clue; many cars sloshed onto the starting grid—with passengers.

And, the racing machines themselves looked suspiciously like the competitors snuck a family chariot off to the track with a nod to the truism, “Boys will be boys”.

Often a shiny, tandem wheel four wheel drive pickup would stage with a rusty Geo Prism, or some such other silliness. Where’s the fairness in that battle, you ask?

Well, it’s in an event rule called a dial-in, elapsed time limitation; this year set at 20.09 seconds. Any racer going down the track in less time than that is, well, eliminated.

Simply put, the family sedan can easily compete with an ear-blasting, flame throwing monster of a racing rail job.

The winner is the guy who survives the eliminations with an aggregate elapsed time average closest to 20.09 seconds.

It is a real test of the driver’s ability, not the car’s muscle and the size of a sponsor’s pocket book.

As the Christmas tree starting signal eases from staged to yellow to green the winner is likely to be the guy with the quickest reaction times and an average ET of just at or fuzz above that magic decimal of 20 point 0h 9.

A geriatric gazelle could be competitive in this race.

And, this quirky race had its quirky genesis after a private New Year’s party at the racetrack 10 years ago. As the celebrants were leaving the next day many pleaded with owner Jack Ehrmantraut for a chance to zip down the track, Mrs. Ehrmantraut explained to Fogeyisms.

Their wishes were approved with common-sense enforcement of racing within limitations imposed by winter conditions—and the Hangover National concept was born.
In the small photo, upper right, a blaring red light announces a starting-line violation for the car in the near lane which already is gone from the camera’s view. The lower photo shows a tote board near the finish line with this competitor’s elapsed time of 26.274 seconds and speed of 61.88 mph.

The “W” denotes the winner—I think. A delightful Mrs. Ehrmantraut provided Fogeyisms her owner-husband’s cell phone number so we could receive racing details later. The courtesy of a response to our phone inquiry never happened.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The tail-end of a long queue of “race” cars is shown in the above photo taken at Dragway 42 near West Salem on New Year’s Day. The event was the 10th annual running of the Hangover Nationals; a quirky drag race where strict adherence to a modest elapsed time was more likely to produce a winner than a bazillion horsepower under the hood. Please stop by Saturday for a peek at this popular event.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Overnight temperature here dropped to minus 1 F. It is now up to plus 2 F. The way I see it, that is a 300% improvement.


Happy 17th Birthday Grandson Dane. Maybe I should go to school with you today--and work on my math skills.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


As we bemoan temps below freezing and snow measured in inches, it was illuminating to read news reports then poke around to learn more about winter life in Tok, Alaska.

A blogger up that way complained that one of the hazards of winter driving at such extreme temperatures is both steering and brake fluid tends to freeze. No mention was made of how they get vehicles to even start--probably nuclear powered engine block heaters.

On January 10th Tok made area headlines with an unofficial temperature of minus 80 degrees F.

Another depressing phenomenon of life in the far north--24 hours of winter darkness. The same blogger was thrilled to report at their latitude in Tok, already they were up to over 4 hours of daylight.

Tok is a burg a little smaller than Bellville located on the main--and only--road from the lower 48 through the Yukon Territory to Anchorage.

The town newspaper is several sheets of paper stapled and filled with "...tidbits of local news, ads, and lots of religious references...." It's called the Mukluk News.

Daily newspapers arrive from Fairbanks and Anchorage--when they can make it. Meanwhile most residents rely heavily on the internet for their news and daily information.

The young blogger told the story of visiting the local diner, The Grumpy Grizz Cafe, where their toddler was rewarded for her order with a large pancake specially constructed with two small pancake ears basted in the appearance of a happy Grizzly Bear.

Such is the charm of small town life in the Alaska winter.

Click here for their Chamber of Commerce.
Click here for their weather info.
Click here for Wikipedia's viewpoint.
Click here for the blog.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Fun Networking Experience

I stumbled onto Facebook, an online, networking site, while doing the recent blog piece on a show at the Mansfield Playhouse. It occurred to me this site would be a good place to archive some of my favorite photos and make them easily available for public viewing.

My Facebook page is here > click!

When you get there and explore a bit you will note I have two albums; one is entitled Some Old Favorites and the other is Favorite Pics '09. Click on the old favorites one first. It contains about 50 of my favorite older photos. The Oh-nine album has just begun.

In fact it launched with the above picture of icicles at dusk, a weather shot that was prompted by a comment from my daughter who was looking for a picture of Ohio's piles of snow. I was pondering her request when the above photo jumped into the camera.

See; networking can be as simple and enjoyable as that.

TJ, this photo is for you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Suffering from winter’s cabin-fever recently, I began a photographic exploration of my kitchen.

Taking a peek at common objects from an unusual perspective, or fiddling with lighting, produced some interesting images. Of course, if the authorities had witnessed my behavior while doing this project it likely would have led to an institutional commitment of considerable length.

Regardless, put on your thinking cap and join us in this expedition. An explanation of the photos; what the subject is and how it was done is below. No peeking until 1) you have identified the photo or, 2) your ears begin to smoke.

Top: A gob of plastic wrap shot close-up with the macro lens and sharply cross lighted by a Mini-MagLite flashlight with a red jell. Exposure was 1/5th sec. f/6.3 and ISO 400.

Next lower: Dry cherry Jello furrowed by the tines of a dinner fork; another close-up with the macro lens and strong cross-lighting from a spiral neon bulb.

Third: A plastic pot scrubber, naturally. Again, a macro lens close-up.

Bottom: A raw egg; yessiree! The egg is sitting on a black felt cloth and illuminated from behind by a very bright 2-D cell LED Mag-Lite. The lens was the walking-around one and exposure was at full telephoto, 1/60th sec., f/5.6, ISO 400.

Notes: The macro lens is Canon’s EF100mm f/2.8 USM and the "walking around" one is Canon’s EF-S 17-85mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM. A tripod was used because of the slow shutter speeds and shallow depth of field in macro photography. Photoshop was applied gently but most of the creative work was done with the camera and lighting.

Friday, January 9, 2009

These in this morning's news headlines:

Detroit School Lacks Toilet Paper, Light Bulbs
Donations Accepted Beginning Jan. 12

UPDATED: 10:21 am EST January 8, 2009

DETROIT -- A Detroit elementary school is asking for donations of toilet paper and light bulbs to continue functioning.... and

Chicago Public Schools' cappuccino bill: $67,000
'A WASTE OF MONEY' | Report says staffers skirted rules to buy 30 coffeemakers, changed athletes' grades, falsified addresses

January 7, 2009

BY ART GOLAB Staff Reporter

Chicago public school bureaucrats skirted competitive bidding rules to buy 30 cappuccino/espresso machines for $67,000, with most of the machines going unused because the schools they were ordered for had not asked for them, according to a report by the CPS Office of Inspector General....

Fogeyisms says: I really wonder if we have lost the ability to govern ourselves.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Saturday, Fogeyisms takes a whimsical stroll with the camera--through the kitchen. We take a peek at some very common items from a different angle of view. A familiar kitchen procedure is shown above; a cast iron skillet with some boiling water on the range. The red was added with a pinch of light from a Mini-Maglite; a utensil usually found in my astronomy tool kit. Please stop by and enjoy some other curious images.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Gosh! Just last fall I concluded 15 years of living blissfully in the woods with but two snowy TV channels to watch compliments of a 15’ antennae dwarfed by 100’ trees. Then along came Dish satellite service with somewhere around 250 channels and comparatively sparkling clarity—about a dozen of which are worth watching.

Sunday, the second stage of my TV technology metamorphosis occurred with the purchase of a 40” Sony flat panel television. That’s yours truly; the apparition in the lower left of the above photo doing a near-sighted gawk at this seemingly theater-sized screen.

And, it is connected to a recently acquired Sony, home theater sound system, complete with wireless surround sound.

When I confessed this latest purchase to the kids, I apologized for the serious abuse of their inheritance.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


These Great Blue Herons were nesting in a large Sycamore tree along a bank of the Clear Fork branch of the Mohican River near Bellville. This photo was taken from well over 100 yards using my Meade ETX 90, 1200 mm telescope for the digital camera’s lens. The shot was done before sunrise at 1/800th of a second at ISO 800. The equipment was mounted on the scope’s sturdy tripod and, since there is no aperture setting, exposure was manipulated with test shots using shutter speed only.

This available light portrait of Rollie Harper was done by hand-holding a DSLR with a 70-200 mm f 2.8 Canon lens. The lens is image stabilized and exposure was at 1/160th of a second, f/2.8 at 200 mm focal length and an ISO of 800. Mr. Harper was playing the drums with Dr. Tom Croghan’s jazz group at the Mansfield Library; a gentle portrait of a man making gentle music.

This dogwood blossom appears to be levitating in a sea of darkness simply because exposing correctly for the brilliant white of the blossom completely underexposed the foliage background. Exposure: 1/1000 sec. f/7.1, focal length 200 mm, ISO 400. The fast shutter speed helped avoid camera shake in this close-up composition and the relatively small aperture provided sufficient depth of field to keep the blossom in sharp focus.

A pair of Snapping Turtles engaged in breeding over the course of two days on my pond’s surface. This shot is yet another with the marvelous 70-200 mm Canon lens; 1/500th second, f/5.6 at 200 mm; with my apologies to the turtles for this photographic voyeurism, of course.

This American Tree Sparrow undergoes a magnified examination during a bird banding demonstration by naturalist Steve McKee at Mansfield’s Gorman Nature Center. Exposure was adjusted to render the foreground in silhouette with my 17-85 mm “walking around” lens. Details: 1/200th second, f/8 and ISO 400. A walking-around lens resides on the camera and yields to a specialty model when conditions require.

A very proud American Bald Eagle seems to smile at one of her two young chicks hatched along the Clear Fork Reservoir this spring. Like the heron picture above this was done with my DSLR attached to the telescope from a distance that insures human presence does not disturb the birds. This telescope with a 50X eyepiece can resolve Saturn’s rings so a few hundred terrestrial yards is not too challenging.

In this worm’s eye view, early morning dew on the grass sparkles under the rising sun. I pre-focused my walking-around lens at the macro setting (about 6”) then sat the camera on the toe of my shoe and clicked the shutter without peering into the viewfinder. I routinely carry this camera with the 17-85 mm zoom lens set on automatic operation at ISO 400.

That is a marvelous range of focal lengths and will do the job 90 percent of the time. Automatic operation almost guarantees a correct exposure and ISO 400 is adequate sensitivity for most daylight-type shooting conditions. I then vary from these settings as conditions or creative urges dictate.

This is the only photo in the group with a hefty dose of Photoshop’s magic applied. It started out as a tightly cropped composition of the lower half of a bike and its shadow zooming along a bike trail. With Photoshop the sky is the limit in photo manipulation. But, I use it sparingly in that regard. While the results can be very interesting a person soon leaves the profession of photography and becomes simply a software manipulator—albeit a skill of its own.

A close-up portrait of a Luna Moth was done with a Canon 100 mm f/2.8 Macro lens early one morning near my front door. It was a dark overcast morning so this picture was brightened considerably by using a Mini-Maglite flashlight held high and to the left of the moth’s head. Notice how the cross-lighting amplified the texture of the critter’s fur and antennae. Exposure 1/50th second, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Note the shallow depth of field. The moth’s head is sharply focused while its feet, just a fraction of an inch distant, are badly out of focus. The close focus distance, the wide open aperture and focal length about double that of a “normal” lens all contributed to this minimum plane of sharp focus.

An orb-weaver spider prepares its breakfast in this natural light photo back-lit in early morning sun. The same macro lens as in the moth photo was used. In this case the shallow depth of field dramatically boosts the image’s quality by throwing the background so completely out of focus the woodsy detail has no chance to interfere with the composition.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

And Fogeyisms is starting off steamed!

Ohio likes to call itself “The Mother of Presidents” laying claim to eight of them; the term “Mother” clearly implying they were born here.


One of the eight in this aberration of historical accuracy, William Henry Harrison, was born in Virginia.

In fact, at the time Ohio became a state in 1803, Harrison was serving as Governor of the Indiana Territory. He served as a general and was a hero in the War of 1812. Later he was appointed by President James Madison to negotiate treaties with the Indians and did not emerge with an Ohio identity until 1816 when he was elected to the US Congress to fill the unexpired term of an Ohio Representative.

He had no official connection to Ohio until 43 years after his Virginia birth in 1773.

I feel betrayed.

I grew up believing Ohio truly was the birth state of more US Presidents than any other state in the union.

Somewhere along the way our educational system allowed itself to be hijacked by some clever public relations stunt and my perception of historical accuracy wound up seriously flawed.

Virginia, Harrison’s birthplace, alone leads the country in producing eight sons who were born there and later elected US President.

Come on Ohio; drop this nonsense and let scholarship alone track the foundation of our history.