Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Today!

And if that wasn't enough one of my regular gray squirrel visitors put on quite a show for me for much of the day.

See, I tend to hang on to my uncut Halloween pumpkins until they rot away or the spring growing season gets underway - whichever comes first. Well, last week I finally decided to get rid of the last of them - specifically, the big one that had a huge hole in the back. But when I went to lift it I discovered that the bottom half held a gooey pumpkin soup mixture. Not knowing what else to do, I dumped this in one of my raised garden beds and worked it into the soil. Free compost, right?

Well, today Mr. Squirrel sniffed it out and fell crazy in love with the pumpkin seeds. He just couldn't get enough! I didn't think there were all that many seeds in there but there were clearly enough to keep the little guy busy (and apparently happy) for hours.

A real win-win situation.

And if any seeds remain behind and sprout, who knows? It might end up being a win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win situation.

Life doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

He's Baaaaack

From yesterday:

Maybe he's looking for a towel?

I *know* what he was looking for this time.
Fortunately, he didn't find any.
Not while I was looking, anyway....

In other news.... I saw the first green tops of my crocuses coming up on Feb 12. The first bloom popped open on Feb 20. The dates last year for these events were March 1 and March 12.

I can't wait to see if this means we'll be celebrating Independence Day in mid-June this time around.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

7 Things I've Learned Since Monday

----- There are more than 280 lakes hidden deep beneath the ice of the Antarctic. (How many icy lakes are hidden in the hearts of men?)

----- Some 382,000 Americans are relying upon some form of dialysis to keep them alive. (Some have been on dialysis for decades.)

----- There are 91 million head of cattle in the US. (That's the lowest number of cattle here since 1958. Should I start hoarding them?)

----- A ticket to the first Super Bowl in 1967 cost $9. The average price of a ticket to this year's Super Bowl was $3800. (The only thing I'd pay $3800 to see is tomorrow - and then I'd probably be disappointed enough to demand a refund.)

----- About 18% of adult Americans have an anxiety disorder. That's about 40 million people. (But what if calmness is the real disorder?)

----- Americans legally gamble away about $160 billion a year now. It's estimated that they illegally gamble away ten times as much. (Can that be possible? How much would you bet on it?)

----- Movie attendance in 2011 hit a 16-year low. DVD sales are dropping, too. (Is it a coincidence that Donald Pleasence died 16 years ago?)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mailed 47 Years Ago Today....

"Dear Kids - We had this motel offered to us a week ago, so we didn't go to Florida - weather was too bad anyhow. We went up Sunday and looked at it and signed the papers to take it yesterday - will move as soon as a replacement comes here. We will come home for a couple of days before we move, so shall see you soon - will write if I get time. Hope you feel better Gus. Anxious to see your new cubbards Bill. Love The Rodmans."

That's what I *think* it says, anyway.

Now if I could just figure out where the hell Hairland, Ohio is....

Sunday, February 5, 2012

18 Seconds With A Hawk

That's one of the things I saw today.

I also saw a bunch of yellow crocuses blooming, but... no video of that. Sorry. Even though it's terribly, terribly early in the year to be seeing such things here in Ohio, you'll just have to take my word for it.

Of course, being a skeptic and all, I'll understand if you refuse to do that.

But I won't believe you're really refusing to do that unless you give me some good evidence on which to base that belief.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Now You See It, Now You Don't (2-B)

So yesterday was the day that the last part of the Seneca County Courthouse came tumbling down.

Not surprisingly, that last part was the central clock tower, seen here being nibbled away on Thursday:

According to the news story that accompanied these photos, the Art Deco tower top replaced the ornate 1884 original in 1943 - not the 1950s as I had speculated here. It was supposed to be the prelude to a general modernization that never took place. Not only was this replacement some 30 feet shorter than the original, it was also about as stylistically jarring as seeing 1959 Cadillac fins fused onto a Model T. If it taught a lesson to other cities contemplating a similar "renovation" I guess it served its purpose.

And even ugly has its place. Much of history is ugly. We haul it away and forget it at our peril.

Not that I always felt this way. In reviewing my own personal history I seem to remember finding demolitions quite the exciting event when I was young. There's a drama and an excitement associated with heavy metal balls and claws tearing into brick and stone and glass and metal right in front of your eyes that's hard to experience any other way. You learn just how much damage one man with a machine can do. And you learn how buildings are put together as they're stripped away, bit by bit. Perhaps best of all is the visual absurdity of intact doors suddenly opening onto empty space, and stairs suddenly leading up to empty sky, and terribly stupid signs pointing the way to places that are disappearing even as those signs point on and on in their ignorance.

And of course as a child all that drama was coupled with high anticipation as to what might come next. "Out with the old and in with the new!" you know.


"Higher and higher!"

"Every day in every way, things are getting better and better!"

Except that after a few years or decades of watching demolitions, you start to realize that that just isn't true.

Not always, anyway.

And perhaps - in some sense, on some level - never.

Information as well as brick and mortar is destroyed with every demolition and it's a wise person indeed who knows exactly which information we can dispense with without regret.

And even the brick and mortar has its value as an enduring symbol, if nothing else, of the countless hours of labor expended by the many people who drew up the plans and ordered the materials and hauled it to the site and then put it all together in a functional and often quite pleasing way. The ease with which one man with one machine can quickly reduce it all to rubble is sobering, to say the least.

Among other things it raises the question: What might one man with a machine do next?

When I was about 8 I watched a crew tear down a house in my neighborhood by hand rather than by machine. Well, by hand and crowbar. It was a slow process, to be sure, but it allowed them to salvage everything salvageable. And it seemed somehow much more humane. More respectful of the labor that went into the house in the first place... and more respectful of all the people who had kept the house clean and in working order in all the years since.

Does anybody still demolish buildings that way? Not that I know of. Who has the time? Or the willingness? Or the need? Labor costs more than diesel. And I'm sure it's safer to take a building down from a distance than from within. Nonetheless, it seems to me that something is being lost in the process. Maybe the same thing that's lost when one goes from tending a back yard garden to using an air conditioned combine to harvest 400 acres of corn before dark. What is it? A deeper connection to life? To reality?

Or does watching the one-man demolition of a 126-year-old courthouse provide us with the opportunity to connect with the deepest reality of all? You know - the one that says that the courthouse players are long gone now, and the stage is quite properly being struck.

But if we don't take the plays of the past very seriously, why should we pay any attention to those of today?

In any case, and for what it's worth, you can find an interesting video summary of the demolition here:

Deeper issues aside, it's always fun to watch the colorful pixels dance, isn't it?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Three In A Row

It's long been socially acceptable to rag on February without mercy, but honestly... I've never thought it was that bad a month.

It's been especially not bad this year.

Here are Exhibits 1, 2, and 3 in defense of that claim:

Feb 1, 2012 - 5:54 PM

Feb 2, 2012 - 5:45 PM

Feb 3, 2012 - 5:53 PM

Can February continue to behave itself for another 26 days?

Magic 8-Ball says "Ask Again Tomorrow"....

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Few Things I Learned This Week

And the week isn't even over yet!

----- 60 hours of video are now uploaded to YouTube every minute. That's five months of video every hour - or about 10 years every day. (According to Time magazine, more video is uploaded to YouTube every month than has been broadcast by CBS, NBC, and ABC in the last 60 years.)

----- Voyager 1 (launched in 1977) is now 11 billion miles out in space. Voyager 2 (launched at about the same time) is 9 billion miles away. (Pluto is less than 4 billion miles away.) The Voyagers travel about a billion miles every 3 years now - almost a million miles a day. It is estimated that they'll escape the last remnants of the solar system - the solar wind - when they pass the 12-billion-mile mark. At their current distance, it takes about 13 and a half hours for a radio signal to reach them. (I'm guessing that this means that neither one of them has won a radio call-in contest for some time.)

----- Ohio produced 125,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2011. That's about 1/100th of a gallon for every Ohioan. (Sorry, I'm not sharing my 1/100th!)

----- Ohio's Franklin County (home of Columbus) now has 16,769 street names. That's up 7% in just the last 10 years. (Apparently we're doing a better job producing new streets than we are at producing jobs. Or Ohioans.)

----- The average price of a hotel room in Columbus is $81.42. (Maple syrup is extra. But radio reception is generally good.)

----- There are an estimated 1000 bobcats in Ohio. (Here, kitty, kitty, kit - OWWW!)

----- Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is a fine pianist.

----- Queen Elizabeth collects pepper grinders.

----- About 30,000 Americans have cystic fibrosis.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Postcard Of The Week (Southwestern Splendor!)

I'm told that this was Phoenix's first shopping mall. Built in 1957, it seems to have done ok until the late 1980s.

This postcard was mailed in 1963. When Glen Campbell was singing "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" a few years later, I wonder if this was what he was picturing in his mind.

Cars have changed a lot since then but the clouds have remained the same. How different might they be now if General Motors had been the world's number one maker of clouds? How similar might today's cars be to those of 50 years ago if Mother Nature had been put in charge of those?

Too bad we can't replay history with a few tweaks and find out, eh?

(To learn more about Park Central, go here and here. Or move to Phoenix and tell me what you find.)