Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Love This Video

This powerful, moving video
pretty much sums up how I've felt
about the last 6 years.

After George W. Bush
was declared the winner of the 2000 election,
I had a really bad feeling
some horrifying things would happen over his term.

After yesterday
- and with the final results today -
I feel so much better!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Haunted Schools?

I didn't want to rush around my school this morning
to set the clocks back,
so I stopped by yesterday morning.
I was nearby for breakfast anyway,
so I figured...why not?

I was in an office setting a clock,
about halfway done
when I heard a crash in the hallway.
I couldn't figure out what it could've been
and went into the hallway
and looked around when I was finished.

I found nothing.
Even when I "opened up" the building this morning,

And when that happened yesterday,
I got that creepy feeling
that there were poltergeists or something nearby.
I'm glad it wasn't dark
or I would've really flipped out!

Similar things have happened to me over the years:

= Just last week,
a teacher and I found what appeared to be
5 drops of half-dried blood in the hallway.
No students ever reported they were hurt
and the clinic had no injured parties that day.

= When I first started working
in this particular school 17 years ago,
I'd find dozens of drops of melted candle wax
scattered on the gym floor every Monday morning.
But the building was unoccupied every weekend.
The custodian who cleaned nights at the time
had no idea where it was coming from
and neither did anyone else.
This went one for about 3 years,
yes...3 years...
before it mysteriously stopped on its own.

= And in the early 1980s,
when I just started my "career"
the night foreman and I were hearing stories
from the other custodians who quit at midnight
about how there was one hall bell on the top floor
that rang at midnight as they were leaving.
The foreman and I never knew this
as we both got done and left at 11 p.m.
We felt they were just making it up
and didn't give it a second thought.
But the foreman had to work one hour over one night
and, sure enough...
one bell on the top floor rang at exactly 12 midnight.
Was this the work of a restless spirit?
Who knows.
The three-story school
(which has since been demolished)
was built in 1928,
so who knows what could've gone on in there
all those years
to produce a permanent presence
that tolls one bell each and every night at midnight.
And that was another thing: one bell.
We found out the next day
from the then-head custodian
that even if the bell
was accidentally programmed 12 hours off
(so it was supposed to ring at noon),
one bell wouldn't ring anyway....

that bell was set to ring in a series with other bells!


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Odds and Ends and Bitching and Moaning

I can raise both my eyebrows together
or my left one by itself.
But not the right one by itself.

* * * * * * *

Why aren't losing attorneys
charged with obstruction of justice?

* * * * * * *

If I'm at a wobbly table or chair in a restaurant,
it annoys me no end.
I've been tempted to ask to be seated elsewhere
but have so far avoided doing so.
I've also thought about folding up a towel
into a small cube
and putting it under the offending leg.
But I know I'd look like a nut in the process.

* * * * * * *

Ditto with wobbly shopping carts.
I had a WalMart shopping cart 4 weeks ago
where a crumbing front rubber wheel
disintegrated into nothingness
over the course of 15 minutes.
I had to lean on a corner of the handle
just to get it to the checkout counter.

* * * * * * *

People who drive
the exact speed limit (or slower), are either...
a) very old
b) just got caught speeding
and they don't want to get caught again
anytime soon.

* * * * * * *

The year is 2006.
In this "day and age",
why can't anyone make socks and undies that last?

* * * * * * *

You take a gallon of milk out of the 'fridge,
open it up
and pour yourself some.
Close it up tightly.
Let it sit for a minute or two
then re-open it and it'll go
a little.
There's no carbonation.
Is it beginning to spoil already?
But it hasn't been out that long
and it's still very cold!

* * * * * * *

There's a pickup just like mine
(only burgundy in color)
that I see every day on my way home from work.
He goes the same direction as me
for about 6 or 7 miles.
He's usually right in front of me;
once in a great while he's right behind me.
I noticed something was strange about him
and figured out what it was:
In those 6 or 7 miles,
he has never gotten a red light,
although each day
I see him go through 5 intersections that have them.

I also know perfect families,
those who have it all.
No worries.
No problems.
I know one in particular
who was in financially great shape
and then his aunt left him a small fortune in her will.
Now he's gone from great shape to rich.

In short, some people lead a charmed life
for no apparent reason.
Just pure chance.
Or - as my Dad used to say -
"There's two kinds of people:
those who get sh*t on
and those who do the sh*tting."

* * * * * * *

Friday, October 20, 2006

Predicting Winter Weather

For Ohioans,
the Winter of 1977 was considered
the Year of the Blizzard
and many called what we had
the Blizzard of the Century.
I couldn't remember the exact date,
so I had to Google it up.
It was January 28th, 1977.

I was only 18 at the time.
The day before,
I remember watching the local weather on TV
(the was no Weather Channel at the time)
and they said it was going to be horrible:
a very strong low-pressure system
was going to move straight north
from the Florida panhandle/Alabama border area,
producing winds up to 75 mph.
It was, in effect...a white hurricane.

It seemed many large trees virtually blew sideways
and in an area containing a lot of big pines,
that meant a lot of snapped trees.
You see, pine is very soft wood.
Wherever icicles formed,
they formed horizontally due to the wind.
I remember this very well
as my Dad made home movies of the blizzard.
And I've seen them over and over.

A few days after the blizzard was over,
I was walking in the front yard of my Dad's house
and noticed a very large bald-faced hornet nest
in a white pine tree.

Typical bald-faced hornet nest

I was not only amazed
that the tree survived the blizzard well,
but I was also amazed the nest survived, too.
But most of all I was astonished
at how high the hornets built the nest:
this nest was a good 50 feet above the ground!
I'd never seen bald-faced hornets
build a nest so high before.
Although we had no more blizzards that winter,
the rest of the Winter of '76-'77
did indeed turn out to be severe.

Was there a correlation between the two?
At the time, I thought
"Of course not."
But I never forgot that nest.

So each autumn,
I'd start watching bald-faced hornet nests.
I'd watch how high
they'd build their nests off the ground.

Hopefully, you NEVER see one up this close!

And I discovered
there is a direct correlation
between how high they build their nests
and how much precipitation that area gets that winter.
I say "precipitation"
because I don't think they can tell
if the winter will be mild or cold.
But considering that
- at least here in Ohio -
most of what falls each winter is snow,
I think that's what we're talking about here.

And it's not just the nests I see.
I ask around to family, friends and co-workers,
asking how high the nests are they've seen
(if they've seen any).
And they're all built the same height in a given area.

In the last 29 years,
I've seen a few years
where these hornets build in low shrubs
(maybe a foot or two off the ground)
during late summer and fall
and the following winter was very, very mild.
Other years they'd build 30-40 feet in the air
and we'd have a severe winter.
It seems we'd get an average winter snowfall
if the height was between 15 and 20 feet.

In 2004, I found one in my neighbor's tree
that was built about 25 or 28 feet high.
We had a pretty bad winter,
but nothing that broke records.

Last year, 2005, I learned something new:
in September I found hornets had built a nest
about 30-35 feet up in a tree.
I figured, " awful winter."
But I was cleaning up the leaves
in my backyard in November
and saw one built under the eaves
on the back of my barn.
And it was about 8 feet off the ground.
It was new and not very big.
It didn't look quite done.
I was a little discouraged at what I saw because,
after what I'd seen all these years,
this didn't make sense.

Was I on a 28-year wild goose chase?

I did have a theory,
and it turned out to be true:
December was terrible...very snowy and cold.
The rest of the winter was actually quite mild.

It all made sense:
They can only figure how severe winter will be
a few months ahead of time.
The high nest looked ahead to December,
the lower nest to this past January and February.
So if I'm able to see a nest built in early autumn
and find a second one built later,
I can actually come up
with an even more accurate prediction.

So, what does this winter hold here in Ohio?

I don't know.

Quit laughing or rolling your eyes.
The fact is, I just haven't seen any yet!
I think once the leaves are off the trees
I'm sure I'll see one.
And I promise I'll let you know.

How high are any bald-faced hornet nests
you've seen recently?
Maybe I can determine
(or you can, using the info I've just given you)
how snowy your winter will be.

* * * * * * * *

Just a postscript...

Tornwordo was wondering about
the habitat of these hornets,
where exactly they could be found in North America.
Here's a good map I found showing just that!

Note how widespread they are.
Looks like they only place they aren't
is dry parts of the continent:
the Great Plains and parts of the Rockies,
southern California
and Mexico.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

White and Nerdy

I see myself in this video.
My wife says she sees herself too,
at least a little.

That's scary.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Yay!!! Grand Nagus Strickland for Governor!

Ohio's Democratic candidate for governor,
Ted Strickland,
looks remarkably like one of our favorite Ferengi's,
Grand Nagus Zek
(minus the ears and wrinkles, of course).

Who else but the Grand Nagus
would be best to run our state's economy?

I therefore encourage all Ohio citizens
to vote for the future Grand Nagus, Ted Strickland !

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Widescreen TVs

I don't have one.
A widescreen TV, that is.
All three of my TVs
are old-style cathode-ray-tube TVs.
But I'd love to have a widescreen TV someday.

Or would I?

One day 2 weeks ago, I was at WalMart
and they had
just about all of their display TVs turned on...
regular TVs, LCDs, plasma, projection,
they had them all on.

And I noticed something,
something I never noticed before.

I've seen display widescreen TVs
turned on in other stores before,
of course
but they were always showing something
formatted for a widescreen TV.
Therefore, it always looked great!

But this day at WalMart,
they were showing something in full-screen format.
Full-screen. I believe it's a 4:3 ratio.
It's what just about all (if not all) TV programming is.
Whereas all theatrical movies
are all filmed in widescreen format.
Anyway, ALL of the TVs were showing full-screen.
It was a show that they picked up over cable.
All of the standard TVs
- although they had small screens -
looked fine.
But all of the big, widescreen TVs
had the picture stretched to the left and right
to fill the screen!
Those of you out there that either have a widescreen TV
or know something about them,
is there any way they can be set or adjusted
so the picture isn't distorted
while watching a full-screen broadcast???

I'll never pay thousands for a widescreen TV
if this is what you have to put up with.
I'd much rather have black bands
going down the left and right sides of the screen
rather than have the picture stretched
so everything looks short and fat.

Anyone out there know what's going on?
Can that be done
and WalMart just didn't bother to adjust them, or what?