Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"I'll tell you how hot it is," Mr. Heron seemed to be thinking

It was in the low 90s that day when I noticed this oddly postured blue heron perched on a stump in the pond. 

I could only imagine it had splayed its wings in an effort to catch the gentle breeze and enjoy some relief from the day's blast furnace-like temperatures.

I often see turkey vultures early some days spreading their wings to dry the morning's dew but this is the first time I've ever seen a heron being as ingenious in escaping the discomfort of the day's heat.

I chuckled to myself as I envisioned his taking the next cooling step--and going for a swim.

And so it goes. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

OF OHIO-- Or is it?

As we saw in our on-line research, the above monument boulder and plaque are located in the village of Centerburg in a park at the intersection of SR 314 and US 36 on the east edge of town.

After exploring the site we visited an adjacent convenience store and inquired of the first three people we met about the actual location of Ohio's geographic center.  The clerk dismissively mumbled something like "Not live her long."

An older guy wandered in about then and explained the old timers will tell you the center is up across from a spring in Rich Hill.  You can see that little town on the map we published earlier.  A friendly younger guy standing nearby disagreed saying, "That's it right over there across the road," pointing to the marker Sue is reading above.

That graffiti blemished plaque simply says the town is the center of Ohio and has been, I trust, since it was established in 1834.

Armed with this perplexing information we headed for the town hall in search of some official perspective.

Two lady receptionists, upon hearing our frustration, promptly summoned a delightful young fellow who chuckled at our consternation and told us about yet another official plaque and monument in a new subdivision a bit north of the town hall.

That memorial was established in the allotment's common ground on April 30th 2011.  "How do you reconcile these two different locations in your town about 1/2 mile apart"  I inquired.  Pretending to look over the top of his glasses he gave me a mild grin.

We headed along his directions to Heart Ct., and did the photo (right).

It was then we energized our GPS and headed for the previously loaded coordinates which actually led us through the town of Rich Hill where I stopped and inquired of a pleasant young lady if she knew anything about the location of the center of Ohio or its being near a spring in her town the older fellow told us about earlier.

No, it didn't seem to be a topic that aroused her curiosity so we thanked her and continued on our way following the directions of the GPS.

After wandering a bit on local rural roads we wound up on County Rd 15, 8/10 of a mile west of County Rd 204--in Morrow County where, strangely enough the GPS was pointing into a field to the south where there was a path freshly mowed in the weeds flanked by two orange colored survey sticks.  There also were a pair of spiral, galvanized 6" culvert-type pipes laying in the grass as if they might soon be installed as gate posts across the visible path.

We wondered if this was just a farmer about to install a driveway into his field, or, just maybe, an under-construction entryway for the actual location of Ohio's geographic center.  (See photo below).

Since we were headed to Delaware for another touristy visit we decided to call on the Delaware County Engineer's office for some local enlightenment where we met a very friendly and helpful Jack Jennings, a professional surveyor and supervisor of the county map department.

They had no official connection with the state's determination of the geographic center of Ohio being in their jurisdiction.

We wound up having a penetrating discussion on just how do you(?) determine the precise center of an object with a random, geometric shape like the outline of Ohio and he concluded it would be quite easy to arrive at several different results depending on methodology which could find the actual center of the object to be somewhere inside a fairly small, say a few miles in diameter, circle.

A US geological Survey web site agreed with Jack with this statement:  "Because there is no generally accepted definition of a geographic center and no completely satisfactory method of determining it, there may be as many geographic centers of a State or county as there are definitions of the term.

The geographic center of an area may be defined as the center of gravity of the surface, or that point on which the surface of an area would balance if it were a plane of uniform thickness."

Thanks Jack!  I can see where that would be pretty hard to determine with an area as big as Ohio.

Later, in drafting this story I marked the various locations I had found for Ohio's center on a very detailed Ohio Atlas and Gazetteer.  All four sites; the one in Delaware County, the one my GPS found in Morrow County and both monuments in Centerburg of Knox County fit in a circle with a diameter of five miles.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Saturday's story began when I noticed the red dot on a current, official map of the State of Ohio.  That's it above in the northeastern corner of Delaware County designating the geographic center of Ohio.  That's curious, I thought.  Most folks believe that location to be in or around Centerburg; shown above in the southwestern corner of Knox County.

When I looked into this a little deeper I found actual coordinates for our state's center on the web site www.ohiohistorycentral.org and they were 82 degrees 44.5' W and 40 degrees 21.7' N which on my otherwise very accurate Garmin Nuvi GPS took us to a site north of Rich Hill on the above map--in Morrow County.

Please stop by Saturday and ride along as we head down that way and try to sort this all out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


The red, iridescent throat feathers--also known as a gorget--are the obvious reason for this little bird's name; the only hummingbird that regularly nests east of the Mississippi River.

This photo was done with a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second.  Even with that incredibly brief instant of time recorded in the exposure the bird's wings were blurred.  That is because they are known to beat about 53 times per second. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Millions of years ago underground flow of water dissolved the limestone rock and left behind an intricate string of passageways and rooms (like those above) showing what is now called the council room; known to have been used by the Wyandotte Indians.

The flat rock in the lower photo is thought to have been used for tribal ceremonies.

The cavern was discovered in 1821 when a wagon train camped overnight nearby.  One of the oxen wandered off during the night and was discovered dead in the morning after falling down a shaft that turned out to be one of many entrances to the cave.

This part of Ohio in the 18th century was part of the Northwest Territory and artifacts found in the caverns indicated the Wyandotte's used the caves until as late as 1810.

Concrete stairways now descend 55 feet to the maze of passages occupying three different levels, one now known as the Bell Tower being 105 feet below ground.

Many miles of passages are yet to be explored including one on the fourth level down which, only partially explored, contains a river flowing to the Olentangy River 1/2 mile to the East.

While this cave is geologically very much like others around Ohio the grounds are well maintained, our tour guides were friendly and knowledgeable, Sue liked her "gem mining" experience and their miniature golf course, even with a $5 tariff, looked interesting and challenging.

They are open 9-5, seven days per week and the cavern is a constant 54 degrees.  Wear hiking shoes and be prepared to descend and climb the 105 feet mentioned above. 


Thursday, July 19, 2012

In another romp around Ohio

Lady friend Sue Brooks pans for "gem" stones by sifting her purchased bag of sand in the mill race at the Olentangy Indian Caverns south of Delaware.  Her $3.50 bag of sand had been salted with a surprisingly generous collection of colorful minerals (below).

It didn't matter the street value of her gems likely was a buck or so.  She had $5.00 worth of pleasure on what was an enjoyable day for both of us.

She did her prospecting stint while we waited for our tour of the caverns to form.  The prospecting and the spelunking both followed several interesting hours of trying to find the exact center of Ohio which many folks believe to be in, well, Centerburg.

We found strong evidence and some of the anecdotal kind to support three or four locations of that geographic point all within about five miles of the junction of Delaware, Morrow and Knox counties.  Please stop by Saturday and we'll tell you about the caverns.  With luck, the story of finding the center of our state will follow the next week.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Today's standard of excellence is mediocrity

The latest assault on our ever diminishing standard of excellence arrived, unsolicited, in my mail box recently.  It was a shiny, new VISA credit card complete with an account number on a local bank where I closed all my accounts more than a year ago.

The card even boasts a spending limit of $X,XXX.

There is a pasted notice on the card which says it cannot be used until I confirm I have received it by simply calling an 800 phone number.

That's it.  One phone call and I can be off on a multi-thousand dollar spending spree.

Good grief!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Charlotte, a retired teacher, describes ink wells in this 1898 school house which cost $687 to construct new.  It is now one of 40 buildings, described on the site map for Sauder Village. They have been transplanted largely from surrounding northwest Ohio communities and fully restored on the village site near Archbold, OH., a small segment of which is pictured below.   

Ohio's Largest Living History Destination

Erie J. Sauder (1904-1997) had a dream which led to his company now being the world's leading manufacturer of ready to assemble furniture.  His dream continued to grow when he drew plans on the back of an envelope for a museum that would one day tell of the challenges of early settlers in the Great Black Swamp of Northwest Ohio during the period from 1803 to 1920.

His dream further blossomed when he purchased 17 acres on SR 2 near Archbold in 1969 then started purchasing, moving and renovating historically significant local buildings to his new site which formally opened in 1971.  The village now sits on 235 acres.

Today, artists, craftsmen and re-enactors lead 100,000 visitors annually through the magic of experiencing colonial life from that time when Ohio became a state--like Judy (right) describing the life of the Jacob Eicher family of the 1850s. 

In addition to the more than 40 buildings the village includes nearly countless displays like the replica of a pioneer's covered wagon (left) used to bring settlers across the Appalachian mountains in pursuit of their own dreams.

Craft buildings and studios are home to several nationally recognized artists working with traditional materials such as wood, tin and glass.

Richard in the wood shop.

Rich in the tin shop.

A tourist in a native home.

Johanna in the Wabash RR depot.

Thank you Mr. Sauder and to all who have contributed to this marvelous jewel.  Your dream certainly is alive and well.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Saturday, Fogeyisms will take you to visit SAUDER VILLAGE near Archbold in northwest Ohio.  If you've never been there, this destination needs to be on your bucket list.  It is the Williamsburg of our state.  You can do a visit in a day but two would be more desirable.

That's lady friend Sue (above) reading literature on one of several barns on display in the recreated village while enactor Carolyn regales visitors with tales of an 1835 schoolhouse.  The hickory stick in her hand did what those sticks were known for in those days--long gone.

But Carolyn also told us how a thin tree trunk leaning just so, like the stick she is holding, was used to prop up the school's slightly leaning, wood chimney which would inevitably catch fire.  When that happened, the larger boys in the class would run around back and kick the tree trunk down (below) which would allow the burning chimney to topple harmlessly into the schoolyard, thus avoiding burning the school down.

Sauder Village is history personified.  Do yourself a favor and take a peek some day soon.  We're certainly glad we did.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

As we wound down our snow birding experience in Florida back in April we published the story:

Now there's a quaint concept'

...and invited you to stay tuned.  Here's how that played out:

The folks at this, Mansfield's latest version of a telephone company, refused to fix the problem they created by turning off my DSL internet service rather than putting it on vacation status during our Florida winter vacation as they had agreed to do.

We did everything short of filing a formal complaint with the state's public utility authorities, all to no avail.

We then fired Century Link.  Period.

Not only was our DSL internet service gone due to their incompetence, we terminated their local phone service too.

My Verizon cell phone is taking up that telephone slack quite nicely.

I also tested a gadget Verizon calls a Jetpack (above).  It is about the size of a small cell phone and captures the local phone signal with its own, discrete telephone number.  It shows a fairly consistent two bars of signal strength at my rural home in heavily wooded hills.  Some of you may know this as an internet Hotspot.

It was a little ragged at first with repeated disconnects but now, with more than a month's experience it is performing quite nicely.  Mostly it flashes a green signal indicating 4G service but occasionally drops back to 3G strength.  I do not notice any difference in performance and regard it as quite similar to my DSL performance experience.

While I run it mostly on its own AC power adapter it does have an internal battery and seems like it may run easily between an hour and two hours and recharges in a reasonable period of time.

When I made the change I already was paying for cell phone service from Verizon in addition to local phone service from Century Link (about $50 monthly) and their DSL internet service (about $25 monthly).  Now, I am paying Verizon (about $50 monthly) for their Jetpack, internet service and saving the $25 monthly I was paying for DSL.

Another big advantage to this set-up is the Jetpack is portable service.  It will travel with me to Florida, or anywhere else Verizon has service, and eliminate the cost--and often inconvenience--of securing internet service in my travels.

Yet another advantage is Verizon has a local, Bellville office with superlative customer service AND we have a good connection with a Verizon shop in Vero Beach, recently purchased by folks from Utica, OH.

We announce "Go Bucks" whenever we enter that store and promptly are rewarded with an O-H-I-O cheer.

In the process of this transition we also successfully tested an Alltel gadget that plugs into a USB port on the laptop.  It performed nicely because my home is conveniently located between two of their rural towers.

We stayed with Verizon because we had three consecutive failures with Alltel's customer service while we were in the process of trying to become their customer.

I shuddered to think what might happen once we signed a formal agreement with that outfit.



Thursday, July 5, 2012


Russia; A 1,000 Year Chronicle...by Martin Sixsmith

Sixsmith, long-time BBC Moscow correspondent, shows how Russia's complex identity has been forged over a millenium.  From the adoption of the Cyrillic alphabet in the 10th century through the Mongol conquest of their land in 1240 through the tsars and the Tartars then the revolution of 1917 that ended the monarchy and brought Lenin and the Bolsheviks and Communism to power.  That autocracy continued through Stalin then stagnated through several successors until recent history brought Gorbachev and Yeltsin and a brief experiment toward freedom via glasnost then a skirmish with capitalism which failed miserably to be replaced with the beginnings of another wave of autocracy under Putin.  500 pages that will make you thankful for the location of your birth in the US of A.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

and more Studebakers

The day our Studebaker story appeared on the blog we attended the 2012 Hemmings Motor News GREAT RACE which rolled through Mansfield on its clockwise circumnavigation of the Great Lakes from Traverse City, Michigan to the finish line in Dearborn.

The route went north across the Mackinaw Bridge then east through Sudbury, Barrie, and Ottawa, Ontario Canada before plunging south across the St. Lawrence River into New York.  The course passed through Watertown and Buffalo, NY and proceeded through Warren, OH into Mansfield on its way to the finish line at the Henry Ford Museum in the Detroit suburb.

Mansfield's stop was reported to be the first-ever lunch stop planned in one of these races, allowing local folks a close-up peek at these marvelous, vintage machines.

One of those 100 cars originally entered was the 1916 Studebaker (above) where it's two man crew of driver and navigator were dismounting for their one-hour food stop.  Entrants engage in a timed, controlled speed, endurance competition over scenic public highways.

Teams navigate through 4 to 7 timed checkpoints each day where their times are compared against a perfectly driven route.  Each second off the perfect time--early or late--count against the teams with the division winners having the lowest score.

While enjoying the sight of #10 Studebaker it was easy to see where the aerodynamically pointed trunks of their passenger cars of the 1950s came from.

When the Studebaker car company was facing challenging times in the early 1960s their designers came up with the Avanti (below).  Because of production problems and stiff competition from GM's Corvette production of the Avanti ended when Studebaker closed in December 1963.

Dealers then had 2,500 Avanti's in stock and only 1,600 had been sold since its introduction.

This particular car was not participating in the race; evidently belonging to one of several folks we saw sporting Studebaker club-type shirts and hats.  It was parked on S. Main St., near Crowe's Shoes.