Saturday, August 28, 2010


When I started this blog I stated it would be a journey and a road of personal discovery. Although I hail from a large family and have children, my children came to me later in their lives. Be that as it may, I consider them mine in every way a father could. And they consider me to be theirs. The one aspect of their lives on which I missed out was seeing them grow from infants with all the challenges and tribulations associated with the process. My Beloved and I were never to have a child of our own. That is the way things are and I have always accepted that. She is my 'forever person'.

Until recently I was never able to understand the total relationship regarding children. My grandson is now seventeen months old. That sensation of total devotion was near immediate. The first time I held my grandson the bond for me was sealed. In his short life I have been able to nestle him while he sleeps, watch him take his first steps, comfort him when he falls and observe his forays into the unknown. And boy does he foray!

For the first time in my life I am able to observe another as all aspects of the world opens up to their eyes and watch their mind develop. I suppose this is how the world unfolded for me as I took my first steps five decades ago. When he is near, I will follow him watching him amble around and explore the unknown world. My favorite times are snatching him up and taking him outside to visit nature. I shake leaves in his face and watch him laugh then put him down as he runs across the uneven grass. With this comes a protectiveness that is primal. I know he is safer no where in the world than in my arms.

When his father comes to pick him up, he sees the red truck and squeals. He is in love with his father. I own only a piece of his heart when he yells for his paw-paw.

A grandfather's love is...unconditional.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Rubic's cube

School once again begins and the world returns to normal. As I read through the local rag an 'editor' letter jumped off the page at me. Read me and respond, it dutifully flirted. I will.

The premise of the letter was that grades in schools are harmful to the U.S. school system. The writer states they are unnecessary and that students should be assessed via 'rubics, checklists and narratives...that reveal what the student knows and can do'. It also states that grades are meaningless. The author is a Director at a research institute.

There are several issues I have here. One being the system she would envision would never last. The grading scale works fine on its premise, however it has been bastardized to such an extent that it isn't worth the ink the letter is printed with. But such a system that she would espouse would very quickly befall the same fate. The problem is a world of teacher unions, school boards and other affiliations that have their own agendas. Your rubics and checklists would soon crumble under the weight. A rubic is an authoritative rule of conduct or procedure. Well, isn't that what the grade scale is supposed to be?

It was long long ago in the mesozoic epoch that an A meant the student understood ninety percent of the material, a B eighty percent and so on. In the Catholic schools where I was educated, a student must hit a ninety-three to receive an A, eighty-five for a B. With the introduction of extra credit one does not need to know the material but can up the grade by doing extra work or by taking honors courses. That is part and parcel from a phase not long ago that espoused not making the student feel worthless or bad because they didn't make the grade. If the student can't master the material, you flunk them, don't ease them forward hoping they at some point 'get it'. When more schools began to change from A to a 4.0 scale with 4.0 being the top, how is it then students now get 4.3's and more. Schools themselves have taken the grading scale and flushed it down the urinal and they have no one to blame but themselves, their teachers and affiliations.

The world grades everyone daily in their jobs and performances both professional and personal. Sheltering children from this reality does more harm that good. One learns more by failing occasionally than sailing through because someone didn't want their feelings hurt. Silly me, I thought a rubic was a brightly colored plastic cube.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Novel Concept

Recently a vote was taken on the US Senate on a bill that proposed any loans being made by Fannie Mae/Freddy Mac be made with a 5% down payment by the borrower. The bill failed on a straight party line, 57-41.

CT Dummycrat Chris Dodd, one of the "architects" of the big hairball in our throats that is the Fannie/Freddy mess, remarked as he prepared to vote "no", "If you make this requirement, you will restrict home ownership only to those who can afford it."


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weekends are now mandatory

Long, long ago in a world far away there used to be this thing called weekends. Now weekends were for everyone from the street cleaner to the head of a company to sit back and relax from the pressures of work and to have a family life. Of course that was all back in a lost time when everyone went to church on Sunday, or Saturday depending upon your belief structure.

Then, little by little those days were stolen away from us. First it was the gas station guy who had to work because more people were traveling hither and yon across America to visit grandma. Then it was the restaurant worker who now had to feed the traveling masses. Then, more and more businesses opened and the seven day workweek began. The problem is, it only applies to some of us. I would even speculate many of the problems of society today are due to weekend work for many.

At current there is a disparity among the working class. I for one have never had a job that did not require me to work weekends. I am not the only one. However, there are a multitude that has never had to routinely work weekends including government workers, higher-ups on the corporate ladder and more. Oh sure, they may have to put in a few extra hours at some event periodically, but they are not chained to their work weekend after weekend.

I propose doing away with weekends. If much of the working world must labor on the sabbath then so should we all. Corporate America has become a seven day event for many but a privileged few. I say it's time we all work weekends with rotating days off throughout the week. If it's so important that I am at my post on weekends, why doesn't the same hold true for my executive level bosses and other support structures of a corporation? Gosh, I'm sorry weekend shopper, I can't solve your delivery problem as there is no one on the other end of the phone to take my call. It's the weekend, after all.

Take it one step further and do away with days of the week. The days of the week are just remnants of a long-lost culture honoring gods we no longer worship. Days of the week are now meaningless and the calendar should be nothing more than a running numeric list. The U.S. is twenty-four hour working society except for the privileged few. It's time for them to put aside their weekend and join the rest of us.

Ironic that I wrote this on my rotating Sunday off, huh?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Who will watch the watchers?

Former baseball great Roger Clemens, a certain hall-of-famer (until recent events, that is) was indicted for lying to Congress when he swore under oath that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs, a charge that has been disputed by his former trainer.

Congress lies to us all the time, but I guess since they do not first swear an oath before speaking to us, there is no one to indict them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Life at 100 mph

Life is fast and seems to go faster the older you get. Did you ever get that feeling? As my years advance it seems the calendar just slips by and before you know it, it starts all over again.

My line of work doesn't help much in this matter. As we finish up the back to school season I will be jumping directly into the holiday session. But RT, it's only September. I understand, but I will receive a merchandise planner showing me where to put all the holiday stuff coming down the pipeline. That generally keeps me three months ahead of most people on the calendar. Gosh, how long did it take to pay off last Christmas? It's here again, at least for me.

It is unfortunate that we as adults don't get to spend too much time in the moment. Last year was a dull summer, not very hot and it seemed very rainy. I likely wasn't in the pool a dozen times. There were always other things to do, chores, family, work and all the rest. The summer was a summer that almost didn't exist.

Remember the days when we were kids? I have several children bounding around from our wonderful neighbors. It is fun to see life through their eyes. The boys, Menace and Mayhem are always on the move, always discovering, always taking things apart their mothers wished they wouldn't. They run around in shorts with no shirts or shoes playing pirate and other such games. Then they yell at me wanting to go swimming, not a care in the world. A little older, Princess has discovered the world of sports and in a short time has become an accomplished soft-baller at ten years old. She looks forward to practice and time pitching with the inimitable Mr. Doogles. We'll see how she does as the summer ends and other interests fill her days.

I remember those days somewhat where the days didn't rush by, playing baseball and football in the nearby fields, riding bikes all over the neighborhood. Sainted Mother would call us back to the house and dinner by walking into the backyard and ringing a cow bell. It's amazing how far that sound would travel. Every kid we played with knew the meaning of that bell; time to come home. The only days that flew by were the last few before school started again, like greased lightning in a bottle.

The only fear I have going forward is Menace and Mayhem will be instructing my grandson Ragin' Cage in their arts in the coming years. Time to batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The top twenty-five

The sport I like to watch the most on the telly is about to begin again. Yep, it's college football season! That got me athinkin', not just about this upcoming season but who over the past twenty years has been the best college football program? Neat idea, I thought. But how do I rank them? And where would my beloved Buckeyes fall into the mix?

There were many scenarios running through my head but I decided to keep it simple. I went back and looked at the final AP college football poll for all years since 1990. My first criteria was they must have finished in the top twenty at least five times. That gave me a list of twenty-five teams. After that, I assigned the point values, a one if you finished first and a twenty if you finished, well you get the idea with the lowest point value being the winner. But I needed something else. What about when you finish out of the top twenty? I decided to give that value a twenty-five.

Not one team finished in the top twenty in every year. Several missed as many as half the seasons. I would guess most have a rough idea of where many of the teams ranked but I think there are a few surprises. If a team hasn't been ranked in the last five it doesn't mean they weren't any good in the early nineties. That being said, here they are based on my simple system.

In order: 1-Florida 184pts; 2-Florida St. 225pts; 3-Ohio State 240pts; 4-Michigan 246; 5-Miami 254; 6-Texas 286; 7-Nebraska 288; 8-Tennessee 294; 9-Penn St 299; 10-USC 313; 11-Oklahoma 317; 12-Alabama 320; 13-Virginia Tech 337; 14-Georgia 345; 15-LSU 352; 16-Notre Dame 363; 17-Auburn 365; 18-Kansas St 367; 19-Colorado 370; 20-Wisconsin 396; 21-Texas A/M 397; 22-Boise St 413; 23-Iowa 415; 24-Georgia Tech 436 and bringing up the rear, 25-UCLA 441.

Some surprises I noted: I was surprised Kansas State rated at all but they had a strong run from 1993 through 2003 making the poll every year but 2001. Notre Dame was a little lower than I expected as was Iowa. Boise St made the list six times since 2002 but never appeared before that and LSU was surprisingly absent before most of 2001. I was also surprised Tennessee ranked as high as they did but they were fairly consistent only out of the top seven times.

Hope your team fared well; Go Bucks, although I'm not happy about crowning the Florida teams the winners.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The fourteenth amendment, circa 1868

There is a push underway to review the fourteenth amendment to the constitution. Many claim the portion of the amendment concerning citizenship should be reviewed. According to the amendment, any person born or naturalized are citizens of the United States and the States in which they reside. Sounds very clear and simple.

Consider this; the same amendment also includes a passage that states apportionment of representation counting whole persons in each State excluding Indians not taxed. 'Indians not taxed'? Just how old is this document? What will they do with the next amendment, give slaves the right to vote?

The Constitution of the United States is a framework. It spells out the basic rights for all citizens and the powers of the governmental branches. However, this was written in a time when the 'Pony Express' was not even in existence. That was taken care of by the creation of the Post Office who isn't much more efficient than the P.E., but I digress. The populace of the current planet is able to move about in ways not imagined two-hundred fifty years ago. Our country has made gains in that time that have set us above much of the world that existed long ago. Many of the immigrants coming to our shores don't have a life much different than their ancestors two-hundred years ago. Stopping by and having a child gives that child a chance at a life he couldn't get elsewhere. In my view that was not the intent of this section of the amendment.

There is nothing wrong with interpreting the Constitution as the world changes. But that interpretation has to be consistent from court to court, decade to decade. It infuriates me every time a new Justice is elected to the Supreme Court the issue of abortion comes up as a litmus test. Asked and answered, move on. (Don't take that as believing I agree with the decision, I don't). But it shouldn't be asked of every nominee. Why not ask if they believe slavery should be outlawed? It's the same thing.

It is time the fourteenth amendment is brought into the twenty-first century; get apportionment to the Indians not taxed as well. Why should only white males over twenty-one have all the fun?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The bloom is off the rose, honey

A nice young lady rang my doorbell the other day. She was young, early twenties I would guess, chipper in demeanor, a smile on her face and dressed for a summer's walk with a flowing gypsy-inspired dress. She was toting a clipboard with her as well.

She was working to gather signatures on her petition to show that I lived in a 'concerned' neighborhood. Are you familiar with said company, she asked? I am, I responded. Said company is an oil recycler. Well, they're spewing toxins into the air such as 'fill-in-the-oxins'. We want to show the judge we live in a concerned neighborhood. The EPA has taken them to court. It will take a year to get them to stop. With her youthful outlook it likely doesn't register with her that this type of court proceeding, if indeed it took just a year, would be like a rocket through the judicial system.

For her part she seemed genuine and really believed in what she was asking me to sign. I am not one to sign most petitions. On face value they are not what they seem to be. How many voter petitions do you hear about being thrown out because half the signatures aren't from registered voters. They aren't worth the paper they are printed on. Well, if the EPA already has taken them to court what will this do? It shows we are concerned, she said.

It is likely she would have been the same person who worked to get this company into production because it is a recycling business and 'green'. Those who tought going green and similar projects for some reason always think it stops there. Recycling is better, cheaper and cleaner. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Each venture has its own problems. Recycling adds at least one more step to a process already in place. If you recycle paper you must add a capture, sort and clean procedure to a industry that already produces a product. Do you really think that lessens the cost? Sure, I want some things recycled so they don't end up in the ocean, but that isn't always an alternative to everything. It is likely the 'toxins' this company is putting forth is the same type or similar emitted from when the oil was produced in the first place. Why? Because it starts with the same ingredients, therefore you must use similar techniques to re-manufacture it.

I think that's the one thing the green recyclers just don't understand. Recycling will produce an entirely different set of problems as we move forward with green, and if you want to save the world you likely will have to tear down something you built earlier telling the rest of us it wouldn't happen to our project.

When your bloom falls, at least it comes back next spring. Always keep your hopes up, young lady.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

If you build it, why would they come?

One of the multitude of "alternative" newspapers we have in our fair capital city has a story in this week that would be more amusing if it were not so sad, in the sense that "sad" is what we have come to expect from our governmental bodies and their surrogates.

The former City Center Mall has been demolished after a short life span, and in its place will arise, if such a thing can be said to "arise", a park.

This park is quite close to the center of downtown, and is the result of a misplaced vision of tax dollars and tax abatements being thrown at the novel concept of "if you build it, they will come". Indeed, they did come, for a few years, anyway, until the rise of suburban super malls with ample free parking, more and better shops, no security issues (read: no gangs roaming the mall) a few years later doomed the City Center to a slow, agonizing death.

The current county commissioners have pledged $3 million toward the creation of the park, and they were mightily miffed when one of their partners in the deal sprang the idea of a carousel in the park upon them, seemingly from out of the blue. They harrumphed that tax dollars should be spent toward more important things like "getting the people back to work". How a park will accomplish this, they do not explain.

"Hold on a minute there, Commish!" cried the executive director of the special improvements district that was created to help bring the park project to fruition. "We've always wanted a carousel", he said. "Various plans have envisioned a carousel for more than 10 years". (Hmm...I am a lifelong resident of this area, and this is the first I have heard of it.)

Apparently it has just been a matter of executing the plan properly, I believe they said.

A company in nearby (50 miles away) Mansfield has been tapped to construct the carousel; they have one in Mansfield that has become a "destination", and it gives people a reason to go Downtown", according to a spokesman for the company. The planned Columbus carousel will "serve as an anchor" and "create a draw that will pull people Downtown", stating "that's what carousels have been doing since the turn of the century".

I presume she meant the turn of the 19th-into-20th centuries, since we had our own fin de siecle not so very long ago.

Not to be cynical, but a holiday-season Ferris wheel and an ice-skating rink, as well as the current firewalk on the river were supposed to suck in, er, draw in crowds. The first two died a quick and painful death (read: bad weather and apathy), while the third has done little to bring flocks of free-spending people back downtown. And whatever happened to that carousel from Ameriflora, circa 1992, anyway?

The difference now, of course, is the "synergies", according to the executive director.

See, the Ferris wheel did not work out because "we overestimated people's sense of adventure." But, it is different this time because, and I could not make up this quote, "Kids love coming Downtown...(and) taking the bus is like going to King's Island for them."

Oh, really? I am certainly happy I was never one of your kids, buddy.

Besides, while the carousel might not survive by itself, when you pair it with other Downtown activities (all of which are minimally six blocks away and most of which are at the opposite end of Downtown), it will serve as the piece de resistance to your Downtown spending spree, I mean, trip.

And there is this gem:

"The surprise element of the carousel may ultimately add to the park's intrigue." It will be located in the south end of the park in a grove of trees, not near the center of the park where "it might not be utilized"(!). The location in the trees will provide "a delightful element of surprise". No mention of how long that surprise will last, though.

The capper to the article, though, must be quoted at length:

"If an unrideable, frightening carousel is the worst case scenario, the second-worst might be a melodic spinning thing in the middle of Downtown that nobody but a handful of vagrants is able to enjoy.

Even that ain't all bad, Ricksecker said.

"A carousel will provide light and color and life to the city - even if people don't ride it."

Wow! They plan to charge a fee to ride this puppy, so if nobody rides it, how long will it take for them to come begging the county for money to keep this vital Downtown resource alive?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

P-90-X yourself

This past week seemed very long at work. With a manager out I logged one-hundred hours in nine days. That's not typical but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Several years ago I would have been exhausted. This week, not so much. And there's only one thing to which I would attribute that. Let's get physical!

I have maintained a relative healthy life-style and 'worked out' on a semi-regular basis for much of my life, at least staying active. Over the last couple of years some of that activity has lessened, some due to nagging joints or just overall fatigue from the daily grind.

A few months ago I was feeling rather sluggish and decided it was time to get back to it. I picked up my workout regimen but this time decided there would be virtually no day that some type of exercise was not performed. I have two lifting workouts and two cardio workouts. I detest running so the cardio work is either swimming or a running-in-place/boxing routine I do in the basement. All are usually less than thirty minutes in length. My Beloved and I own a pool,(no we're not rich, it costs the same as a decent automobile and can be paid off in the same amount of time). It is long enough to swim laps. In the past if I was feeling too tired I would skip the workout. I promised myself I would not do that. My eating habits haven't changed that much but I do try to watch what I eat a little more carefully, which means I order and eat a medium pizza instead of a large.

In the past two months I have lost eight pounds and have stuck to my new routine. I have a new energy I haven't felt in years. No matter how tired I feel I get the exercise in. I don't like morning workouts so I workout in the evening or at night depending on my work schedule, right before I go to bed. Five per week is the minimum. Sometimes you have to let the body rest.

Yesterday was the end of the line and today I have a day off. Even though tired I got my lifting workout in and decided to cool off in the pool before bed. The waters were placid with the light shimmering a soft blue below the surface. I waded gently in and watched the subtle waves made by my presence undulating across the surface. As waves do they bounced off the far end of the pool and returned between the crests of the waves going forward. That simple wave repeating itself over and over again made the water's surface milky from the reflected light. Waves are a form of energy transferred to the water. Then I let myself slide beneath the water to cool my salt-encrusted head.

I guess I was more tired than I thought.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Your Tax Dollars at Work

This little piece appeared online today at the website of our dear litle daily newspaper:

It costs more than twice as much as a traditional sound wall and, if all goes well, will look like a giant Chia Pet towering over the interstate.

But will it screen out the sound of cars whizzing by? No one knows for sure.

Still, the Ohio Department of Transportation is moving ahead with a proposal to install a 400-foot "green" sound wall along one side of I-70 near Pataskala this fall.

"It's a research project that we have initiated," said Scott Varner, spokesman for the state transportation agency. "There's still a lot of questions."

State transportation officials admit that the new sound wall -- made of dirt and plants as opposed to concrete, wood or Plexiglas -- is an untested concept in Ohio or anywhere else. Cold weather or salty runoff from the interstate could ruin the vegetation; excessive rain could cause the wall to erode into the road.

Then there's the cost.

The price tag for the 400-foot wall is estimated at $300,000, which comes to nearly $4 million per mile. A traditional concrete sound wall costs about $1.5 million per mile. The see-through acrylic walls that are popping up in parts of the state -- such as a stretch of I-71 in the Polaris area -- are priced at about $2.4 million per mile.

But the soil-and-plants wall, standing 12 feet high, could muffle road noise while also cleaning the air and looking more natural than a concrete barrier.

"Ohio is willing to treat this as a research opportunity to measure the sound reduction based on different types of vegetation," said Anna Schiessl, operations manager for British Columbia-based Deltalok, the company picked to build the wall. "They'll be using different types of vegetation every 100 feet."

Among the types of vegetation planned for the Ohio wall: wild bergamot, Indian grass, brown-eyed Susan, ryegrass and dotted St. John's wort.

Deltalok is building another "green" sound wall in its home city, Vancouver, later this summer. But the company can't point to any precedents for the Ohio project.

In the mid-1990s, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation built a sound wall out of plastic, soil and plants near Milwaukee that lasted about two years before weeds and erosion forced its removal.

Schiessl said the technology behind the Wisconsin experiment was "completely different" from Deltalok's planned sound walls in Vancouver and central Ohio. The new walls are designed to last at least 75 years, she said.

They also should be effective in absorbing road noise, said Joel M. Lerner, founder of Environmental Design, a landscape consulting firm in suburban Washington.

"A sound barrier has to be dense enough that there are no openings -- that's the key," Lerner said. "That's all it takes -- one little opening -- for the sound to just pour through."

Lerner called the concept "very innovative," saying he'd never heard of anything like it before. But as for whether the wall will survive Ohio's heavy rain and snow and other extremes of weather, he couldn't say.

Neither could Varner.

"It's more of a research project than a construction project," the state transportation spokesman said.


I just love the way our various government entities throw money at anything anybody says "might " work without any actual proof of anyone trying this idea out privately. Why do we need to have, in this state and economy, an untried idea suddenly have a large amount of our money thrown at it without a shred of proof that it is anything more than a dubious waste.