Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Fogeyisms is taking this week off.


Our last bit of malingering occurred over Thanksgiving 2007 when we took some time off and shifted from daily publication to our more relaxed and current schedule.

The excuse for this vacation is we will be leaving soon for a bicycling visit to Florida and we are enjoying the mental and physical preparations for that journey.

It is likely we will get something posted from down there.

It is just about as likely we will take the following week off too.

We beg your forgiveness.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

This is a 50th anniversary model of Edison's incandescent lamp invention which occurred in 1879. The filament was made of carbonized sewing thread. Gifted curator of the Edison Birthplace Museum in Milan, OH, Laurence J. Russell, is shown in the small photo below.

to Thomas Edison's Birthplace

In the 1840s Milan, OH was a world-class grain port (second only to Odessa, Russia) due to a home-built canal which linked the town to Lake Erie. In its heyday the town also was a shipbuilding center; producing 75 lake schooners.

It also was there in February 1847 that world-class inventor Thomas Alva Edison was born.

His ancestors arrived in New Jersey in about 1730 and were Loyalists to the British during the Revolutionary War. After the colonial victory, their land was confiscated and they later migrated to Canada.

Edison's father, Samuel, was engaged in a Canadian political struggle of the time and was later forced to escape across the border into the US where he and his wife settled in Milan.

Edison's mom bought a residential lot in town and pop built the home in 1841--six years later to become Thomas' birthplace; the youngest of seven children.

Sitting on the side of a steep hill adjacent to the canal basin, the modest dwelling actually is three stories tall. The room of Edison's birth would be dwarfed by many closets in a modern home.

And, the rest, as they say, is fairly well-known contemporary history.

Edison held a record 1,093 patents and was most noted world-wide for his inventions of the incandescent light bulb and the phonograph.

Today, the tiny brick birthplace has been restored as closely as possible to its original condition and period furnishings. It sits beside a colonial styled museum that contains many of Edison's inventions and memorabilia.

After Edison's death in 1931 opening his birthplace to the public as a memorial and museum became the private project of his wife, Mina Miller Edison, and their daughter Mrs. John (Madeline Edison) Sloane.

Today's museum opened on the centennial of the inventor's birth in 1947.

Laurence J. Russell, Curator of the Edison Birthplace Museum, has worked with Edison's youngest daughter, Madeline, since 1963.

We had the marvelous good fortune to have him conduct our recent tour of the facilities. His humor is elegant. His knowledge is encyclopedic. If today's history students had him in their classroom our country's collective wisdom would enjoy a hefty boost.

Curious? (that's a healthy attribute by the way), take a peek at the museum's website here: http://www.tomedison.org/ and do yourself a favor by enjoying a visit.

Joetta Goodman, my ladyfriend, is pondering the historical marker at Edison's birthplace,the small brick building to the right. The gray building to the left houses the historic site's museum just blocks from downtown Milan. In the lower photo a portion of our tour group listens to Curator Russell in the home's parlor.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Milan, OH

Working models of many of Thomas Edison's phonographs are on display in the museum at the site of his birthplace in Milan. Annette, of the historical site's staff, plays recorded music on one of his machines invented in 1877--much to the delight of museum guests. Please stop by Saturday for Fogeyism's story on a recent and delightfully informative visit.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

--Wild Bird Style

It is time to start paying a little more attention to the birds in your neighborhood.

Interesting changes are about to occur; some because of anatomical cycles in the birds, others due to migration.

Goldfinches are a common year-round bird in Ohio and during our late fall, winter and early spring both sexes look pretty much alike. But soon, the males will start to reveal themselves by molting into their breeding plumage. They will sprout bright yellow color in some of their feathers giving rise to their popular name of wild canaries.

They will look just dandy until late fall when the cycle will reverse itself.

A common winter bird in Ohio is the Junco. The sexes of these critters look alike. They are sparrow-sized with a mostly dark gray body which shows a sharp change to a nearly white belly. Pay attention as they flit about. They will flash their very white outer tail feathers, not unlike the mannerism of a white tailed deer flashing its tail as it bounds through the woods.

Juncos will soon disappear entirely when they migrate to their breeding range far in the north of Canada.

You likely have not seen a Red-Winged Blackbird for quite some time. While Ohio is included in their year-round range most have quite sensibly spent their winter south of here. Their arrival is a delightful heralding of spring.

One of the most well-known migrants is our Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. It, by the way, is the only hummingbird commonly seen east of the Mississippi River. It, too, has been long gone from Ohio; most likely wintering in South America and truly representing the touristy critter humans like to call snowbirds.

Keep your eyes open for their return after mid May. They have the good sense to avoid most possibilities of a late winter assault.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Camera motion and fuzzy pictures:

Your point and shoot camera works hard to make a correctly exposed picture. As the available light lessens the camera automatically opens its aperture wider, slows the shutter speed or adds flash to achieve a correctly exposed photo.

Sometimes it does a combination of all three.

A problem arises when you always depend on the automatic function and have no awareness of your camera’s shutter speed. The speed may have slowed down to the point where the slightest camera or subject movement will blur your picture.

Let’s wrestle with definitions a bit. A fast shutter speed is one where the camera’s shutter is open only a tiny fraction of a second; say 1/500th. Naturally, the camera only records what happens during that extremely brief period of time, and, under normal circumstances not much movement occurs in that short interval.

There is not much danger of blurred images here.

Conversely, a slow shutter speed, say, 1/15th of a second, is a substantially longer interval and much motion can occur while the shutter is open. In this instance if the camera moves during the exposure the entire picture will be blurred.

If the camera is held still and the subject moves, the overall picture will be sharp but the subject will be blurred.

If the camera is panned (moves in the same direction and the same speed as the subject) the subject will be recorded fairly sharply and the background will be blurred.

In this brief explanation you can see 1) shutter speeds we do not control can cause poor pictures, or 2) shutter speeds under our control can be very powerful creative tools.

Here's how the pictures were done:

In Thursday's photo of my dance partner, the exposure was at 1/4 sec., f/14 and the camera was panned as Fran danced toward the right. All dancers moved during that exposure and the rear doorway also is blurred because the camera was intentionally moved.

In the lead photo above notice the spotlights on the ceiling are fairly sharp but there is lots of motion in the dancers; especially those travelling at right angles to the camera. The camera was held fairly still, but, the subjects moved. Exposure was 1/6 sec., f/9. All pictures were done at ISO 400.

Experimenting with very slow shutter speeds often produces interesting results as shown in the small photo inset above. While the dancers moved and the camera was hand-held during this fairly long exposure there is sufficient sharpness to lend creative legitimacy to the photo. Exposure also 1/6 sec., f/9.

In the bottom picture a slow shutter speed was used, the camera was panned and the on-board strobe was fired. Everything in the picture shows movement because of the slow shutter speed but notice particularly the hand of the dancer in the blue shirt. It is shown in sharp detail and is blurred. The short duration of the strobe recorded the sharp hand image, yet the camera still saw the hand motion during the fairly long overall exposure of 1/15th sec., and f/5.6.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

This is a square dancing student's eye view. The pretty lady in the foreground, Fran Hoeppner, is my dance partner and that is the scene I often see when we are whirling through a robust lesson segment. It is no wonder dance lessons are so challenging.

Actually, this picture was done to illustrate a blog article on the creative use of motion with a still camera. The appearance of movement above was achieved by using a slow shutter speed during exposure. We will talk about this in greater detail Saturday while Fogeyisms explores this technique during a recent Saturday evening dance by Mansfield's dance group, The Johnny Appleseed Squares.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Fidel’s Last Days by Roland Merullo

Finding a good, new-to-me author always is fun. Merullo has been spinning yarns since 1991 and this believable story about Cuba is his eleventh book. I’ve long been fascinated by this pitiful country and our neighbor just miles from Key West. Merullo clearly has a firm grip on the island’s history and lifestyle. This is a fast moving and convincing tale about an attempt to assassinate Castro. I enjoyed the read.

Collected Short Stories, Vol. 3 by Louis L’Amour

This volume contains 29 short tales in 434 pages so there are lots of quick reads in these Frontier Stories. L’Amour is a giant in the genre of Western writers and that ranking is obvious in this collected volume. But, believe it or not, there was way too much “shoot-em-up” in the half dozen or so stories I read. The book went back to the library unfinished.

Breakfast at Sally’s by Richard LeMieux

This is a marvelous read! LeMieux, once a successful businessman finds himself estranged from family and friends—and homeless. He is suddenly transformed from his affluent lifestyle to panhandling in front of gourmet stores where he once shopped. He lives a year and a half in his old van with his tiny but loving canine companion Willow. He is suicidal and treated in mental institutions. He searches for redemption and ultimately finds it among quirky, homeless companions and other caring folks in Bremerton, WA. He is now working on his second book, the story of a woman he met on his inspiring journey. I can hardly wait to read it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Officer Burt Skeen of the Bellville PD acting as court bailiff explains the procedures to be followed in the mayor's court session about to begin in the town hall. Mayor Darrell E. Banks (lower right) ponders reference material from the Ohio Municipal League during an interview leading to the next court session.


There were five defendants that night.

Two involved alcohol in automobiles. One involved a vehicle accident. One involved an auto equipment violation. The last involved an angry father, two assaults, and a minor daughter's behavior; the type all loving fathers would find distressful.

To some people, Mayor's Courts are regarded with disdain. There are sometimes charges of inadequate judicial competency, or being the culmination of a town's speed trap. Occasionally, those are true.

But, that night in our Rockwellian small town, a court of the most basic jurisdiction functioned with compassionate, yet serious jurisprudence.

The defendant in the accident case felt wrongly charged and used photographs to support the pleading. Officer Skeen quietly and clearly helped with an understanding of a "no contest" plea versus a "not guilty" plea which would automatically boost the case to Mansfield's Municipal Court where legal counsel could be employed. The defendant chose the latter.

The accused's rights and dignity were thus preserved.

Both young people in the alcohol incidents "screwed up" to use common language. They knew it. They faced their consequences; one with a cold walk to a nearby ATM machine for fine money. The other with the mayor's quiet assurance village officials would be helpful in the event the violation had repercussions with job recruiting authorities.

The equipment violation involved bad brakes on a friend's borrowed car. Mayor Banks explained the driver always bore the responsibility for the vehicle under their control. The defendant understood and worried about satisfying the fine with installments. An agreement was reached with obvious relief.

The last case was the most serious. The mayor quietly explained that and the defendant knew it. The incident had some ingredients that could have led to a criminal conviction and jail time. That was thoroughly explored. Resolution involved a hefty fine and quiet contrition.

The mayor in this case preserved the court's dignity by concluding with the observation, "I'm also a father."

The defendant nodded and left quietly.

A defendant makes a pleading to officials of Bellville's Mayor's Court including from left Officer Skeen bailiff, Donna Livesay, Clerk of Court and Mayor Banks.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bellville has an active Mayor's Court which is held in the town hall twice monthly. Mostly it deals with vehicle and other relatively minor infractions. Speeding fines can range from $100 to more than $200 depending on the culprit's velocity. On the other hand a person guilty of a first degree misdemeanor could face a maximum $1,000 fine.

In this picture the evening's customers wait while another pleads the merits of the charges.

Fogeyisms discussed this topic with Mayor Darrell E. Banks who described presiding over the court as "The worst part of his job."

Interestingly, Mayor Banks shares grandfathering duties with Bob Leach who has been mayor of Magnolia, OH for some 20 years. His advice to the new mayor in the family when Banks took office was "...get rid of Mayor's court."

Please stop by Saturday for our story and a hint of why they both feel that way.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


And Good Riddance

A recent weather summary for January revealed Mansfield enjoyed temperatures above freezing for just 24 hours in the entire month. Already February is looking promising as in the above photo where Sunday's warming sun starts to reduce the snow load on a campfire woodpile.

Soon, February will use its status as our shortest month to hurry along toward March where winds will prompt a boy's kite flying fancy.

In the smaller photo (right) Max and I return from an early morning hike Sunday in temperatures that soon moderated into the 40s. Ahhhh. A larger version of the small picture appears on my Facebook page. To take a peek at that, click on the link upper right.