Friday, November 28, 2008

W.O.F. 40 Honduran Chickens

This little trinket came home from Honduras with William in September, as a gift to his sister. It is pretty clever. You hold this thing and kind of roll it around making that ball at the bottom circle around down there. The ball then pulls the strings one by one, and the strings cause the chickens up above to peck at their food there. We'd need to supply a movie to give you the full effect.
Anyhow, here at Streetpolo we hope you had a great Thanksgiving, as we did, and that you are doing whatever you want to on this "Black Friday" which, for me, definitely does NOT involve shopping. That will all happen in time. Just not today.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Critter Central

When we bought our house, one positive factor was its reasonably big yard for the kids to play in. While the chilluns were growing up, we erected the obligatory swingset in the back yard, and even had a big Anderson window installed in the back wall of the house so we could watch the children while they ran around and did all those kiddie things back there. Then, as they grew, we would host some neighborhood kickball or whiffle ball games in the side yard we shared with Faye, our accommodating neighbor, an elderly (thought I never really thought of her as elderly) woman who even came out from time to time to have an at bat or cheer the kids on.

Well, the kids have dispersed, and you may think the yard has fallen silent, having raised the kids 'til they fledged right out of the nest. But the evidence says otherwise. Thanks to a couple inches of snow, I have pretty good proof that the yard is still seeing a lot of activity - by critters. I submit the following photographic evidence.
I took the dog out back to sniff around this morning, and it looked like Grand Central Station back there.

Some of the tracks indicate that some of the varmints were just passing through. To the left, I'd say a rabbit, and to the right, one of the many walk-bys or creep-bys or stalk-bys performed by one of the large number of neighborhood cats.

Then there is the bird feeding area...

And finally, the tracks of our very own animal....
It's kind of good to know the yard is getting some use by all those birds, squirrels, rabbits, occasional raccoons and possums, and domesticated felines and canines. And the occasional human, too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

W.O.F. 39 Not Sure What to Call It

Man, I'm not sure where that week went. This may be the first time I went from WOF to WOF without a post. The week just shot by; what can I say? I had stuff going on just about every evening, and the dog went to the vet with a cough (now she's on about $136 worth of doggie pills not covered by my health policy; seems to be better) that kept us up a couple evenings. Gotta get her to give up the ciggies... There's helping teach new people how western square dancing works on Monday nights. There's band practice on Tuesday nights (We're attempting what we are calling "gospel week" this Sunday. Gonna shake the rafters. Uh huh. Anybody have a spare Hammond B-3 organ I could borrow? Or better yet, keep?)

Got snow last night, maybe two inches. There is always a fascination with that first magical snowfall, followed by the reality of the need to sweep and scrape off the car, shovel the walk, and drive on treacherous roads alongside all those "idiots" who had forgotten over the past nine months how to drive in inclement weather.

It is also that dark time in men's souls when one wakes up in the dark, drives home from work in the dark, walks the dog in the dark - not much enlightenment. Not many photo ops for the blog.

So in fairly rapid order, our city and county's economic development directors left their jobs for better offers, and the downtown manager left as of today. So on top of what I am pretty sure is a full time job, I am helping out the city economic development office "at least 8 hours a week" (at most? 24/7..) to keep things afloat. It is rather like the job of that guy on the Ed Sullivan show who had to keep about twelve plates spinning on rods. That's pretty much the job description these days. Minimize plate breakage.

And now "the holidays" are staring us in the face. I am working my way out of "bah humbug" mode into a more celebratory approach. I think by next Wednesday evening I will be feeling pretty festive. The prodigal son will be home Monday. The daughter and son-in-law and grand-dogs will be by around Wednesday. There will be turkey and various forms of carbohydrates, etc. Looking forward to that whole thing. I hope you are looking forward to it all as well. And for heaven's sake, come Black Friday, get out there and stimulate this poor excuse of an economy we have goin'. Buy that bass boat or Cadillac or third home in the Rockies you've been thinking about...

Oh, right, weird object. I did not find a particularly innovative item this week, but slap on the macro and it yields some cool, otherworldly, colorful photos. I really don't know what you call this thing. One of the kids, or maybe Linda, got it for me. It is one of those icky, soft, almost gooey, tentacled things that, when you punch it, it starts lighting up in all manner of colors. Inexplicably, it is located in a plastic bowl on my side of the bathroom sink. I think I like it there because, say, on a dark Monday morning, I can punch this thing and there is light and color, and I then feel a little better about going out and making it a great day. To each his/her own motivation.

For a long time, I kept this thing in its original packaging, claiming it would be worth much more as a collectible. But that's hooey. This thing has far more value as a plaything and a source of mental therapy. And so, I give you...the thing without a name....

Friday, November 14, 2008

W.O.F. 38 Odd Pod

The lodge at Salt Fork State Park, Ohio

For the last three days, I have been holed up in Salt Fork State Park, down by Cambridge, Ohio, out in the middle of nowhere, at a conference. And by "nowhere", I mean the entrance road to the lodge is seven miles of twists and turns. As I drove that stretch Wednesday night, I saw one car - and five deer - on the road.

I took a couple opportunities to hike around. It is not the loveliest time of year, but the temperature was pretty accommodating and it felt good to not be doing the two things one does at conferences - sittin' and eatin'.

Anyhow, I guess the weirdest object I took a picture of was not really that weird - but it will have to do. I guess rather than filing it under "weird", it would be more like "the wonders and minute details of nature". So this is it:

Then there are the deer. Salt Fork is set on seemingly thousands of acres of land. While bow hunting is going on around the perimeter of the place, nearly all the park itself is a sort of deer sanctuary with "no hunting" signs posted everywhere - which is good for trail hikers like me. So the deer within the park tend to be a bit more human-friendly than they are way out in the wild.
For example, they graze on the grass right next to the lodge.
Farther into the woods, I happened to come upon about 15 deer of varying size, foraging around, with a couple young 'uns horsing (or "deering"?) around. Here are a few shots of the deer from my little hike yesterday.
Seems to me it would be safer to let the tail get a bit dingy - that bright white kinda gives 'em away...

And not far from where I saw the deer, the setting was like this:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today's Science Question

Ok, here's the deal. We've lived in our present house since 1980. That's 29 autumns, or 29 sessions of serious leaf raking. We have six maple trees on the property, as well as assorted dogwoods, a couple apple trees, and so on. This means lots of LEAVES.

So, for nearly 30 years we have raked and hauled leaves to the edge of the street, where the city mercifully sucks 'em up into a truck and hauls 'em off to the mother of all compost piles. Conservatively estimating the dry weight of each year's leaf harvest at, say, 200 pounds, this means we are closing in on hauling some three tons of leaves out of here over the past three decades.

So here's the question: Assuming these leaves are somehow transmogrified from nutrients in the soil and all that, why aren't we sinking into an abyss as the leaves are hauled off the property? What is coming in here to replace the mass of the leaves? We keep hauling leaves OUT, but nothing IN to replace them. I'm not sure I get that.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, November 7, 2008


It's like living in a giant stop sign or something, but this octagonally shaped house, built around 1862, is about five miles from our more conventional rectangular one.This one was taken on the fly while my eyes were on the road.

There are evidently a bunch of these things around the country and, of course, someone has tried to catalog them. And their website, if one octahome is not enough for you, is accessed by clicking right here.

Below are the two shots of this Monroeville house, from the above-referenced website. The second one is looking down at the staircase from the cupola. Pretty cool. You wonder if the rooms are, like, shaped like pieces of pie or something.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


A diamond in the rough - greeting me as I head out of town this morning.

Most days I travel 28 miles - 45 minutes - to work. I travel along good old U.S. Route 20, one of the stalwart old east-west highways that helped move America westward and then move goods and folks back and forth in large volume. At least until the Interstate was built - in the form of the Ohio Turnpike, about five miles to the north. Now 20 is just an overbuilt and underused connector, with remnants of bygone motels and other travel-oriented businesses scattered along its corridor.

Anyhow, here is a handful of highlights along my daily soiree to the workplace. I would show pictures on the way home but, sadly, with the change in time this weekend, I have entered into my "doom and gloom darkness" portion of the evening drivetime. Thank goodness for books on CD, music on CD, and XM radio, which temporarily has an entire 24/7 channel devoted to Led Zeppelin...
Twenty minutes from home I pass through Bellevue. Below is a shot just entering downtown. They are trying a program to get building owners to jazz up their facades. It is taking some effort to get people interested. It will take some doing. They lost McClains, an old restaurant/tavern that had been around forever, passing through three generations before hanging up the "For Sale" sign, and the retail base is fairly slim these days.
Next in line is Clyde. I post this picture (below) of Route 20 clipping through town because of the horrendous number of wires strung up there. Do you ever notice those things? It just doesn't speak "21st century" to me. Which is actually kind of ironic, because Clyde has been messing with a project where they were delivering Internet service over power lines.
Clyde is noted for two things, mainly. First, it was the home and provided inspiration for author Sherwood Anderson, who wrote "Winesburg, Ohio", pretty well known in literary circles, but painting a rather dismal portrait of how people behaved in small-town America.

The other big thing is the Whirlpool plant. This is the largest washing machine factory in the world. Here we see the old factory, and the more recently constructed distribution center. They are connected by a conveyor that reaches over a road. Something like 3,000 employees work here. I hope in this recession that the world still demands new washing machines, or Clyde and environs are going to be hurting, big time.
Then after another expanse of farmland, we arrive in Fremont, where I claim to work, and we cross the mighty Sandusky River to get downtown.
This view above is rolling down East State Street toward downtown. About a block farther to the right is a new CVS drug store that has been completed for about two months, but whose shelves remain empty. The story is this: CVS follows a strict policy where they can only open a certain number of stores every year. They are reaching their allotment for 2008 and so this store will stand empty until its grand opening in 2009. Meanwhile, a holiday season and part of a flu season will escape their cash registers. Seems counterintuitive.

We need rain.
But actually, of all the images of my commute, I guess I like that lone tree back where I started, all golden in the fresh morning light, about as much as anything...
And along my drive I was able to snap a weird object in another town I pass - Monroeville. That object will appear Friday...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I'm pretty sure there's a heron in this picture...

Spotted this guy's reflection while watching the sunset (above). There were a couple herons around sampling the evening's cuisine.