Friday, September 30, 2011

Of Course I Wasn't At The Fair...

... but if I had been, here are the sorts of photos I probably would have taken with the Kodak Brownie we had at the time:

It's good to have surrogates out there in the world working for us, even if we'll never know all of their names.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Just For The Record...

... I hope Katherine's ok, too.

(Her apartment building seems to be doing well. I find that oddly reassuring.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our Other Field Trip

The year that I toured the downtown Toledo studios of WTOL-TV with my high school classmates was also the year that we went out and looked at WTOL's transmission tower.

It may have been the same day, but I don't think so. It was the same *kind* of day, though - neither very sunny nor very cloudy nor very hot or cold. Jacket weather, I suppose, under brain deadening milky white skies. Probably in the spring of 1976, if I had to guess. But I don't have to, do I? Thank goodness 'cause I'm really not in much of a guessing mood.

WTOL's transmission tower was way out in Oregon, a sparsely populated area east of the city that was known for its oil refineries and train tracks. Every Toledoan knew it was there, but very few ever seemed to think much about it - which seemed to be fine with the local residents.

As you might have guessed (if you happen to be in a guessing mood), there wasn't much to see. You had the tower and you had a large metal shack at the base and that was about it. They let us into the shack. They did not let us climb the tower. Not that I would have but it would have been nice to have been asked.

The tower was some 900 feet tall - high enough for its signal to reach about 40 miles before the curvature of the earth pushed TV viewers into someone else's broadcast area.

The shack was manned by a single guy less than 6' tall and somewhat scruffy looking. His voice barely filled the shack as he talked. I was struck by the fact that WTOL-TV's news broadcasts were utterly at the mercy of a man who would never be allowed to broadcast the news himself.

I can't remember much of what he had to say. I suppose he spouted the usual statistics about wattage and power consumption that no one ever really gives a shit about but everyone duly pretends to take in. My ears perked up, though, when he went off on a short digression about how odd it was to be there at night. Egged on by a question from one of my classmates, he admitted that he didn't much like being out there all alone at the bottom of a 900 foot metal tower in the middle of a big flat field at three in the morning with storms raging all around him. "Things can get pretty... strange," he told us in a quivering voice as his eyes glazed over. It was a moment that left me wondering how many months it might have been since he'd had a vacation.

"So, how's your reception here?" I asked. Yeah, I was trying to be a smartass but after spending most of my life fiddling with the rabbit ears on top of my set in a usually unsuccessful attempt to get a decent picture, I felt more than entitled.

"Not very good," he unexpectedly revealed. Apparently the signal was too strong. Or maybe all the metal of the tower that stood between his little monitor and the beam at the top tended to ground things out. I think he said he had cable. Ha! Sometimes stupid questions really are the best.

The only other thing I remember about our trip was that his shack contained the biggest glowing vacuum tube I've ever seen in my life. I bet it was a yard high. Besides serving as a critical part of transmitting operations I bet it also kept that shack nice and cozy on even the coldest winter nights.

I think they kept a spare there, too - just in case things *really* got crazy during some three-in-the-morning storm.

So, that's my Visit to the Transmitter story.

What's yours?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Question Authority

And everything else, for that matter.

Including tour guides.

That's what I try to do, anyway. It forces me to overcome my natural shyness. And it helps fix me in the memories of others - just in case I end up needing a good alibi. And - every once in a while - I even learn something as a result.

For example, during the course of that tour of WTOL-TV that I talked about here, I asked our tour guide, "Do you tape and save copies of all your newscasts?" I think I was standing between the cameras and the anchor's desk at the time, so it seemed like the thing to ask (although no one else thought to ask it).

I was shocked when our guide responded more or less thusly: "No. Well, we might tape one or two programs so that the reporters can see how they're doing, but no - we don't systematically tape and save things."

It was like hearing that the newspapers didn't save copies of their editions.

I didn't understand this then. I still don't.

Taping these programs certainly didn't seem to me to be cost prohibitive. And it would have given them a great resource to access when doing future stories. And it might even have made them money if they offered copies of various broadcasts for sale. Plus I would have thought that they would have been required by their lawyers to save copies of their broadcasts in case anyone ever sued them for slander or libel or obscenity.

Instead, what could have added up to an extensive visual history of the city and its people apparently disappeared forever almost as soon as it was made.

Had I had the means back then, I would have started taping the nightly news broadcasts myself. As it was, it would be years before I was in a position to do so, and by then I had different priorities.

And why should it fall to *me* to do this? Why didn't anyone in a position of power at WTOL-TV see the wisdom of creating a permanent library of their newscasts as a matter of course?

Are many or most or all TV stations still as short-sighted and indifferent when it comes to compiling an invaluable visual archive of local history today?

Was our guide merely uninformed and mistaken? Were The Powers That Be actually taping everything without her knowledge? Have they all been behaving much more responsibly than I'll ever know?

Yes, question authority - and everything else.

Again and again and AGAIN.

Just don't forget to eat lunch.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Alpaca Days Are Here Again

So, how are YOU choosing to spend National Alpaca Farm Days this year?

We decided to tour an alpaca farm.

Here's some of what we saw:

Perhaps the highlight was the 6-week-old baby alpaca (technically called a cria) that we got to watch learning how to eat its first hay.

She's the light brown one in this video:

Among the things we learned during our visit:

----- Ohio has more than 1200 alpacas these days - apparently the most of almost any US state.

----- Although some top breeding males sell for $100,000 or more, you can get yourself a good male pet alpaca for about $500.

----- If you DO get a male pet alpaca, be sure to also get him an alpaca friend. They're herd animals and will cry real tears and get very depressed if kept alone.

----- An acre of land can support as many as 5 alpacas - and according to one man we talked to, a hotel room can support a single small alpaca for at least a few days if it has to.

To find the closest alpaca farm to you that's offering tours tomorrow, go here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Which Reminds Me Of My First Time....

You know that trip to WTOL-TV that I described in my last entry? Well, that was actually my second time in the building.

My first visit came a few years earlier when I was a junior in high school and my class took a tour of the place. One of my classmates had a part-time job there and he arranged it.

I was duly impressed, this being the local CBS affiliate and all. It was almost like getting to visit the Emerald City.

Of course that analogy seemed uncomfortably apropos after I saw how small and lifeless the news studio was. It felt like visiting the Wizard's Throne Room after he'd been exposed as a fraud.

Fortunately, that wasn't the feeling I left with. The control room turned out to be suitably impressive, and it was fun to learn how the CBS eye logo wasn't just an iconic bit of self-promotion - it served as a signal to the local stations to switch to their local commercials and what-not. Sometimes the switch proceeded less than smoothly and a local commercial paid the price by being truncated or silenced or mucked up altogether. Turns out that every mistake like that has to be logged and the advertiser has to be reimbursed - usually with free air time.

I got to stand next to the machine responsible for making the switch. In fact, we got to watch the switch while it was made. The whole set-up (including monitor) was smaller than the average refrigerator. Now I suppose it's smaller than the average pack of cigarettes (including monitor). So it goes.

While we were there in the control room one of the station's Emmy-winning producers breezed through. He was one of the happiest guys I've ever seen - maybe because it seemed like he got to push any button he wanted, whenever he wanted. He also managed to answer our questions with the sort of competency and fluency that I don't think I've encountered anywhere else except "The West Wing" at its best. I still can't believe he thought us worthy of his time. Maybe he had just finished bonking his secretary and he was still so giddy from the experience that he wouldn't have even noticed a root canal.

I don't know - I'm just guessing. Probably wrongly. Cocaine might be a better bet.

As impressive as both he and the control room were, however, the highlight of the trip for me turned out to be the rather large basement studio. It wasn't anything special - just a big empty space with pale blue walls that made it seem like the back half of a discarded swimming pool - except for the fact that it had a garage door at one end. There was a parking garage to the east of the building and it was through this connecting garage door that they were able to get cars from the garage into position for the taping of local car dealership commercials.

As our guide explained all this to us I suddenly realized that I was in the spot where Phil and Don Brondes had been making their commercials for my entire life. Phil and Don owned one the biggest Ford dealerships in town and for many years the TV ads for their vehicles always seemed to end with one or both of them putting a sledgehammer through the windshield of a car. It was the sort of thing I really enjoyed seeing when I was a child. Standing there in the very spot where hammer had shattered glass was like standing in the Oval Office or Elvis's dressing room. Had I known this was coming, I wouldn't have been able to sleep the night before.

Life being life, things seem to have gone downhill for Phil and Don in the years after my visit. Phil grew old, retired, and moved to Florida while Don ended up using a gun to put two bullets in himself not half a mile from where I once lived. Nobody seems to know why he did it, but I suspect that existence can come to seem pretty empty after you've spent years gleefully smashing car windshields with your brother and then you're not able to do that anymore.

Whatever may have prompted Don's sad final actions, they rather tarnish my memories of him from the 1960s as well as my memory of being in the same studio he once used to create those earlier memories.

And now writing about my memories of these earlier memories is threatening to tarnish my today, so I guess I better stop.

On the bright side, we've owned two Ford Sables that turned out to be great vehicles even though we never put a single sledgehammer through either of their windshields.

In the grand scheme of things, I suppose that's what matters most....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

And Speaking Of The Magic Of Radio...

... I won a radio contest once.

It happened back on Sept 10, 1979 - a full 32 years ago this month.

I was living in Toledo at the time and - for some reason I can't now begin to recall - listening to WCWA AM when the DJ asked a trivia question.

I can't exactly recall what the question was now, but it was something along the lines of "In what movie did Groucho Marx say 'I'd horse-whip you if I had a horse'?"

I knew the answer.

I thought everybody did.

When the DJ repeated the question a few minutes later, I was surprised. I couldn't believe he hadn't been flooded with right answers.

I decided to call before the rest of the world woke up and seized this golden opportunity to talk to a real live radio personality.

Before I knew it, I'd won!

It was a pretty brief conversation. The DJ asked the question. I gave the right answer. He said it was right and asked how I knew it. I said I'd always been a fan of the Marx Brothers.

And that was pretty much that.

Except for the fact that I mispronounced my name.

Probably both first and last.

Which was painfully obvious to me when he played a tape of our conversation on the air a few minutes later.

The important thing is, I'd won!

Which meant that I was entitled to the promised prize: The record album of my choice.

When the DJ had first announced that that's what was at stake, I'd thought they would just ask me what I wanted and then quickly mail it out.

Of course that's not what they had in mind.

After I won, I discovered that I'd have to go down to the station to pick it up.

This took away a lot of my excitement at having won.

The station was downtown. I'd have to ride a bus for an hour to get there, and then ride a bus for another hour to get home.

It took me 9 days to finally decide to do this.

The WCWA radio station operated out of the WTOL-TV building at the corner of Huron and Jackson in those days. It was a building I was very familiar with since the bus that I took downtown on a regular basis for much of my life went right by it. In fact, that bus went by it two different ways, the in-bound route taking me down Huron and the out-bound route taking me up Jackson.

The main doors faced Jackson - you can see them on the left side of this vintage picture:

Those bricked-up doors puzzled me for decades. It was only recently that I learned that the building had originally been the home of the Toledo News-Bee newspaper - which ceased publication way back in 1938. I guess the operators of modern media require better security than old-time newspapers did. Or maybe the old doors were just drafty - I really don't know.

What I do know is that security was being provided by a young black woman behind a desk the day I entered the small but impressively modern lobby to claim my prize.

I think someone once defined surrealism as a sewing machine meeting an umbrella on an operating table. Although my memory is a bit foggy at this point, my sense is that this woman looked at me as if I was a dirty, old umbrella being plopped on her private operating table.

And I perceived her to be a highly dubious sewing machine that would rather be napping.

Fortunately, the moment passed (as moments tend to do). I explained what I was there for, I sounded convincing enough that she actually placed a call to the WCWA people, and I was soon on my way up a narrow set of stairs to the actual world headquarters of WCWA.

Which turned out to be a very small, very poorly decorated office in which a disorganized white girl made a polite attempt to figure out what contest I might be talking about.

I don't think she ever did figure it out. Instead, I think she rather quickly concluded it was easier to accept my story and give me what I wanted.

Pleased with her easy acquiescence, I anxiously waited for her to ask me which one of the millions of record albums they had in their collection that I'd like to take home.

Instead, she presented me with a small cardboard box in which maybe 10 albums sat like so many baked potatoes from last week's feast and told me to help myself.

I went through the albums several times. Most I'd never heard of. The rest I had just about zero interest in.

And my options only seemed to get worse the more times I pawed through them.

I finally settled on the Atlantic Rhythm Section's Underdog LP. It contained their remake of "Spooky" - a song that I remembered somewhat fondly from the 1960s.

I'm told that "Underdog" charted as high as #26 on the Billboard album charts in 1979. I guess that means *someone* must have liked it.

After playing it once, I myself let it gather dust on my shelf.

Eventually, I got rid of it - maybe at a garage sale, maybe behind an abandoned gas station in the dead of night.

All of which taught me the valuable lesson that sometimes it's better to lose than to win.

Thank you, AM radio! Although it's a lesson I've re-learned many times since, I'm very glad that my first time was with magical you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Other Newish Device

Yesterday (as you may recall) I talked about a radio that I recently acquired while looking for cartoonishly entertaining examples of technological inefficiencies.

Today (as you may have guessed from the title) I'd like to talk about the other radio that I acquired from the same seller at the same time.

I've always been a sucker for 2-for-1 sales. That's why I once ended up getting my hair cut twice on the same day.

Here's what that second radio looks like:

Give yourself a big round of applause if you immediately recognized that as a General Electric Model 321 from 1946.

And go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back if you remember that the Sears Silverstone Model 8051 that I talked about yesterday was made just two years later.

Did you notice that the GE has push buttons and the Silvertone does not? Well, so might a very young child. Don't let it go to your head.

Other differences are not so obvious, however, so go on and give yourself 10 big bonus points if you can see that the GE weighs almost 2 pounds more (8.8 pounds, to be exact, versus 7 pounds for its buddy).

Hell, I only weighed 6 pounds when I was born! (And I *still* can't bring in WLW no matter how hard I smack myself on the side.)

And just because I can tell that you're dying to know, the GE is bigger, too - 14" wide by 9" high by 8" deep vs. 12" wide, 9.5" high, and 7" deep for the buttonless Silvertone.

Imagine - 14" wide and all it does is allow you to hear a few local AM radio stations on a good day.

Of course I love 'em both (and they always play so well together!), but... the sheer size of the GE is what sustains my hope of someday finding a doorbell as big as a Cadillac Escalade.

Until that day comes, I shall take comfort in the fact that the drastic reduction in size that occurred in these two radios (1008 cubic inches of volume in 1946 down to just 798 cubic inches in 1948) didn't continue in a linear straight line over time. If it had, they would have been making extremely hard-to-find radios of -52 cubic inches by 1952.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Newish Device

So, Microsoft is said to be hard at work on Windows 8 - an allegedly revolutionary step forward that will allow their operating system to operate on all kinds of devices and not just PCs.

Can anyone tell me if it will operate on my favorite new device?

I know it might not look newish but I can assure you that it's *quite* new to my home as of last month. It's called a Silvertone 8051 and although it was made and sold by Sears in 1948 rather than by Apple anytime this century, I challenge you to try to find anything made by Apple that will still work as well 63 years from today. Go on - just try. You can't do it, can you? Score one for Sears!

What's that, you say? You think the Silverstone in that photo actually died years ago? I suspected there might be doubters like you out there. That's why I've gone to the trouble to take this additional photo of it:

That's the front page of today's newspaper that it's holding up, my friend. What more do you need - the smell of burning flesh filling your nose as your fingers slip into its back side and make contact with its hot, glowing tubes? Don't be a sicko!

Now, I'll freely grant that my new device is not as easy to carry around as a smart phone or an iPad or even a laptop computer, BUT... I think my device produces more smiles per watt than just about any other item you might have on you right now.

For one thing, my device looks like it just popped out of a cartoon.

For another, it weighs an incredible 7 pounds. Carrying it around isn't simply an amusing diversion, it's a full body work-out!

Best of all, though, is the fact that all it does is allow me to listen to local AM radio stations. That's it! NO email. NO text messages. NO Google Earth or MapQuest or Wikipedia or YouTube. I can't even get any of those highly distracting FM radio stations you may have heard about.

At the moment, it's hard for me to imagine a more inefficient piece of equipment - and that's a good thing.

Efficiency is vastly overrated. It's what has led to the 24 hour news cycle, high unemployment, and Ebola's ability to get from Africa to Iowa in the time it takes me to find my shoes.

Economists might enjoy prattling on and on about the wonders of increased productivity but from where I sit (did I mention that my Silvertone makes a great emergency footstool?) the main thing increased productivity has achieved is speed up the rapidity at which wealth in this country is becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer pockets.

And to add insult to injury, all the big pocket manufacturers have either automated their factories or relocated them overseas.

Still not convinced that you'd be better off with a Silverstone radio than a PC?

Well, consider this: If you had a Silverstone radio right now instead of a PC, you might actually be whistling while you work instead of sitting there pointlessly wondering if I intended this blog entry to be funny or serious or merely annoying.

I rest my case.

Monday, September 19, 2011

White Noise Solo

Hi! How are you?

I am fine.

And I would have told you that before now had the need to keep an eye on my garden not intervened.

I strongly suspect that someone has been oiling my sundial on the sly but I can't seem to ever catch them in the act.


In other garden news, I've been keeping an eye on my first ever crop of fall lettuce. I planted it on August 24, first noticed it growing above ground on August 29, and thinned it for the first time on September 6. Now the race is on between it becoming something significant enough to harvest and the end of the growing season a month or so from now. Lettuce is pretty tolerant of the cold - I've actually had my spring crop survive being buried by snow! - but there will of course come a day when not even cold-tolerant crops will survive here in Ohio. How much will I be able to pop into my mouth before that day comes? Place your bets!

If you've ever spent time watching a garden yourself, you probably know that the mind tends to wander while the eye stays more or less alert. Here are some of the things my mind has wandered back to recently:

Quote of the Month: "China has plans for 22 new stratospheric skyscrapers in the next five years. But with the exception of the new 1 World Trade Center and the just begun 2 World Trade Center, no super-tall buildings are planned for the U.S." (Charles Osgood, CBS News Sunday Morning, Skyscrapers on the Rise Around The World, Sept 4, 2011)

Oddest Superstition: According to Anthony Everitt's Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor, Augustus carried a piece of sealskin with him in the belief that it would keep him safe from lightning. (In his defense, can you name anyone who has ever been hit by lightning while carrying sealskin? Hmmm?)

My New Favorite Name For A Woman: Vipsania. (That was the name of Tiberius's beloved first wife. I don't know if he ever called her Vippie but it makes me smile to think of him doing so.)

Helpful Household Hint Found Online That Actually Worked: Have a white plastic bowl that's been stained yellow by the French's mustard you put in your potato salad? Soak that bowl in a gallon of water and half a cup of chlorine bleach for 30 minutes. The yellow will magically disappear! (And by "magically" I of course mean chemically.)

Ok, now that I've scared away all the casual readers with that white noise I can share with you (the worthy reader) what really must be said:

The elephant ear leaf that was 14" by 20" on August 13 grew to be 16" by 24" by Sept 7 - and expanded to a full 19" by 27" as of Sept 17.

I've been afraid to check it since then.

I think I can actually hear it swelling and swelling and SWELLING in the day-long rain we've had today.

If you never hear from me again, please tell Jeff Lynne that I kinda liked the music he made during his ELO days.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

An Unexpected Visit From An Old Friend

I'm glad I just happened to be home late yesterday afternoon when she decided to come by.

Has it really been almost ten months since my last entry on this subject?

Hard to believe.

I guess time flies when you're lucky enough to enjoy lots of lighter-than-air dreams....

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Here's part of page 3 from today's edition of the Columbus Dispatch:

It took me awhile to figure out that this was actually two separate ads rather than one very weird ad.

Now I need to figure out if the editor was messing with me or if it's time to change my medication.

What do you think?

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Favorite Needle

So, do you have a picture of YOUR favorite needle? If so, please share. (And if it happens to be something that a house mother can use to defend herself against today's breed of fella, please share it faster!)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Alexander's Loss Of Face

I'm still reading Anthony Everitt's biography of Augustus.

I started it about three weeks ago.

I think the older I get, the slower I read.

At the rate I'm going, I expect to start reading backwards by the time I'm 60.

Which is different than unreading things. That's an ability no one has apparently acquired yet.

Which is too bad because I really, really wish someone could teach me how to unread Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow.

But I digress. What I really wanted to say here is that I'm enjoying reading about Augustus and those who knew him.

I just finished the chapter in which he visited Alexandria after defeating Mark Antony and Cleopatra once and for all.

Like a lot of tourists to Egypt back then, he made it a point to go see the tomb of Alexander the Great.

Unlike all other tourists, however, he wanted to meet the long-deceased Alexander face to face, so he had his body disinterred.

I guess when you're the supreme ruler of an empire, people will do anything you ask them to do.

Unfortunately, something seems to have gone horribly wrong during this meeting of Augustus and Alexander and... well... somehow Alexander ended up losing his nose.

Today there's nothing at all left of Alexander or his tomb, so in retrospect the loss of a nose seems pretty minor, nothing more than the merest hint of what was to come, but still... it seems rather surprising and uncalled for all the same.

Just because the monuments of Washington DC are probably destined to eventually turn to dust is no excuse for Obama to dig up the body of JFK and break off his nose, you know?

Somehow "Oops - I didn't mean to do that!" seems like a pretty lame excuse no matter how many centuries pass.

And I don't think even today's ultra-sophisticated spinmeisters could convince the masses that a faux pas like that was actually a sign of deep respect.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that history often seems to me to be one long catalog of the grotesquely and/or hilariously unexpected. That's what keeps me reading.

Of course the unexpected confirmation of things I thought I already knew is nice as well.

Everitt's biography of Augustus provided me with one of those, too, when in the course of talking about how Mark Antony and his men were bottled up in Actium harbor it mentions in passing how disease started spreading through the ranks because "the barely perceptible tides of the Mediterranean" weren't enough to dissipate all their garbage and waste.

Ha! If the frickin' Mediterranean Sea doesn't have much of a tide, certainly Lake Erie has even less of one - which is one of the things I was trying to convince my S.O. of this past June while we were vacationing in Vermilion.

Thank you, Mr. Everitt, for inadvertently offering this tiny bit of proof that I really *do* know what I'm talking about sometimes.

And thanks as well for sharing your take on the whole "Cleopatra killed herself with an asp" story. Like others, you dismiss it as probably a myth. What makes your dismissal so memorable and worthy of thanks, however, is your revelation that Egyptian asps tend to be some 8 feet long and thus rather difficult to smuggle into a closely watched chamber.

The picture you generated in my head of Elizabeth Taylor clutching an 8-foot-long snake to her breast in an attempt to kill herself in 20th Century Fox's cinematic version of the tale is worth MUCH more than what I paid for your book.

Thanks ahead of time for the other smile-inducing revelations that doubtlessly await my history-hungry eyes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Monkey Morality

I recently finished reading Alex Boese's book, Elephants On Acid and Other Bizarre Experiments.

Perhaps you did, too.

If so, you now know that giving LSD to a pachyderm is rarely a good experience for anyone involved.

You also know that car drivers stop more readily for a woman pushing a baby carriage than a woman pushing a shopping cart, that those engaging in sexual intercourse end up leaving behind a pubic hair on their partner only about 17% of the time, and that the longest a dog has ever lived after having a second dog's head transplanted next to its original was 29 days.

As fascinating and/or revolting as all that might be, however, the thing I found to be absolutely the most fascinating and/or revolting came in Boese's chapter about Stanley Milgram's famous "Obedience To Authority" experiments.

You remember those, right? No? Well, you can find Wikipedia's entry on them here.

My short summary goes like this: When people are asked to give an electric shock to another person as part of an alleged experiment to determine whether or not the infliction of pain helps people accurately memorize a list of randomly paired words, most people will shock that other person. In fact, they'll give that other person greater and greater shocks even as that person moans and begs for mercy. About two-thirds will even deliver an obviously dangerous jolt of 450 volts after the other person has started screaming or become ominously silent.

Did I mention that the other person indicated at the start that they have a heart condition? My bad. They did.

It was all a ruse, of course, designed to probe the human tendency to obey the increasingly outrageous requests of authority figures even as Very Bad Things start happening as a consequence.

Milgrim's conclusion: "I would say, on the basis of having observed a thousand people in the experiment... that if a system of death camps were set up in the United States of the sort we have seen in Nazi Germany, one would be able to find sufficient personnel for those camps in any medium-sized American town."

All of which I've known for many, many years. (I probably began to suspect as much from the time I encountered my first playground.)

What I didn't know until Boese told me was that other researchers have conducted similar experiments with monkeys.

Specifically, they locked rhesus monkeys in cages and required them to pull on a chain to obtain food. Pulling on that chain not only gave them food, however - it also delivered a shock to another monkey in a neighboring cage.

"After witnessing the agony of their neighbors. the majority of the monkeys refused to pull the chain again. They starved, some for as long as twelve days, instead of inflicting pain on another. The monkeys, in other words, did something most humans could not: They said no."

I look forward to the day when a political, religious, or business leader steps up and begins to promote a system of morality that's at least as good as that of the average rhesus monkey.

(Hell, at this point, I'd be happy to stop seeing news stories with titles like GOP Glock Raffle Succeeded So Well It Sold A Deer Rifle Also.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Big Change

On Friday it was sunny and 97 degrees here.

Today it's cloudy, damp, and 65.

The year seems to have been blown from summer to fall during the series of storms that rolled across Ohio after I went to bed Saturday night.

My sinuses were *not* happy about this sudden change. I spent much of Sunday trying without much success to break free of the invisible bands of pressure that ran across my cheeks, nose, and forehead.

I'm almost back to normal today.

Other things, of course, won't be back to what they were like last week for months.

Here's one example:

Cedar Point (Friday)

Cedar Point (Today)

This is the first Tuesday the midway has been this desolate since May 10.

It'll be like this (or worse) every Tuesday for the next 8 months.

If you happen to live in Ohio (or any place like it), I hope you seized the opportunity to enjoy the good weather while you had the chance.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Are You Missing YOUR Panties?

I don't mean to be forward - and I certainly don't mean to be rude.

But if you DO happen to be missing your panties, I may be able to help.

According to a story in my newspaper today, some 1700 panties have turned up along a country road about 30 miles to my southeast.

A local news station says the figure might be as high as 3000.

Until dedicated investigators release a precise count, suffice it to say at this point that we're talking about a lot of panties.

So, if you just happen to be missing yours AND they continue to be missing after a thorough search of your house, car, and place of employment, you might want to contact the Fairfield County sheriff's department and see if they've been taken into protective custody.

Apparently a wide variety of colors and patterns have now been successfully apprehended without a struggle, so be sure to be prepared to give as precise a description of yours as possible when you call lest you have your hopes raised inappropriately or (horror of horrors!) you accidentally end up with someone else's.

Of course if you happen to have a photo of your missing panties you should turn it over to the proper authorities as soon as possible. Not only will this make their job easier, it will also save you the trouble of having to pick your panties out of a line up.

In the meantime, try not to think about the rough fabrics, skewed stripes, and obnoxious polka dots your poor panties might be having to co-exist with in the extremely cramped and poorly ventilated quarters of a rural Ohio evidence room.

And maybe before another day goes by you'll finally make the time to do what my loved ones and I just did and sew a few identifying microchips into whatever panties you might still have in your possession.

Scenes From The Garden

Aug 22 Cicada

Aug 25 Woodpecker

Aug 27 Morning

Aug 27 Sunflower

Aug 28 Hummingbird

Aug 30 Bunny

Aug 31 Chipmunk

Sept 1 Grasshopper

Sept 1 Night