Apr 30, 2006

Pewter Skies, Fuchsia Blossoms


(Toledo, OH) The dreary late April weather in Toledo today did not prevent our crabapple tree from exploding into a flowery pink supernova.

A favorite of the squirrels, birds, and sundry other animals that populate my neighborhood, this tree and its brilliant pink petals traditionally signal to me that planting can begin in my gardens.

I did sneak a few hardier seeds and crowns in the ground already (marigolds and asparagus), but I use the arrival of the crabapple blossoms as my cue to get busy sowing seeds.

Grandmother Accused of Burning 9-Month-Old Grandson

Left: Infant Robert Grodi III, before the burn incident

(Newport, MI) A grandmother in this small Monroe County community faces first degree child abuse charges after an incident in which her 9-month old grandson suffered severe burns to the legs, knees and feet.

Cheryl Ann Grahl, 50, maintains her innocence, and told policethat the child climbed into a hot tub and turned on the water himself.

"I will not plead guilty to something I haven't done," Grahl told WTVG-13 in an interview.

The infant is in St. Vincent Mercy Hospital in fair condition with first-, second-, and third-degree burns on his legs, feet and back.

The Monroe County Sheriff's office, however, said that the burns are consistent with immersion, and the infant's injuries do not match up with Grahl's claims.

The baby's parents also believe that an earlier injury that the infant suffered may also be child abuse. About one month ago the baby received a burn on his arm that the grandmother claimed occurred when she accidentally dropped a curling iron on him.

The baby's father, Robert Grodi Jr., was shocked by the experience of seeing his child in the intensive care unit.

"They pulled off his bandage and they peeled off his whole leg in one piece," he told WUPW-36. "I couldn't quit crying. This has destroyed our lives."

Grodi cannot understand how a relative could harm the toddler.

"Three days ago he was a normal child. I went to work and by lunch he was in a burn unit," Grodi said. "I'm doing everything I can to stay strong for him. To tell you the truth all I want to know is why. Why my baby."

Apr 29, 2006

Plausible Deniability: Toledo Leaders and the 1849 Cholera Epidemic

Left: Puck cartoon showing NY officials trying to keep cholera at bay

The 1832 worldwide epidemic of cholera showed the efficacy of developing local boards of health to monitor environmental conditions and to track the spread of epidemic disease. Toledo, like many American cities, filled its Board of Health with prominent citizens; these men, however, did not necessarily possess any particular expertise as doctors or scientists, and typically came from the ranks of commerce.

The Board did not officially begin to announce cholera cases until 13 July 1849. Toledo mayor Daniel O. Morton, President of the Board, moved to add one or more physicians to the group as the 1849 cholera outbreak unfolded:
The President suggested the appointment of one or more physicians to the Board of Health...but it was decided that it was inexpedient [emphasis aded] to make the appointment.
The actions of the Board in denying a motion to add physicians into the mix of public servants are not surprising; their presence might lead to the declaration of the presence of commerce-killing cholera in the community. Seeking the advice of physicians, however, was not all that Morton wanted in the Board of Health:
The President also suggested that a special committee be appointed to procure a suitable building for a hospital, and to furnish the same. Upon consideration, the Board declined to raise the committee.
The cost of maintaining even a small community hospital could be a cumbersome financial burden on a community, and Toledo officials were reluctant to commit to such an endeavor. Moreover, given that they considered the disease to be the province of the intemperate, there seemed to be little need to pass along to taxpayers the costs of caring for people of questionable morals. The best that Morton could initially get the Board to agree to was the creation of special committees, which were charged with inspecting the city’s wards for any sign of cholera.

The Board released a report on 16 July 1849 that noted “9 cases of Cholera and no deaths within the last 48 hours.” Despite the official recognition of nine cases in the previous two days - and at least 26 official cases since the Board decided to announce the presence of cholera in Toledo – the members of the special committees presented a quite rosy scenario at the nest Board meeting on 16 July 1849:

Mr. Saxton, of the First Ward, from the special committee for visiting and examining houses, reported that the committee performed said duty, and found no cases of cholera in his ward.

Mr. Bennett, from the same Committee, 2d Ward, reported that he had visited nearly every house in the Ward, and that there was no cholera, and very little sickness of any kind. The boy who was reported dying is well.

Mr. Babcock, from the same Committee, 3d Ward, reported that the Committee had been active in the discharge of their duty that they found no cholera, though there were five persons sick in a house with water standing under the floor - a very filthy, dirty place.

Mr. Nichols, from the same Committee, reported that he, assisted by Street Commissioner Crane, had examined the buildings in said ward, and found no cholera, and but few of other diseases, and these where water stands and stagnates. Saw several very filthy places, and served the necessary notice.
The observations of the businessmen-turned-cholera inspectors are worthy of further analysis. None of the men saw – or chose to report – anything resembling a cholera case in their respective wards. In fact several of the committee representatives seemed to go out of their way to make their wards seem like the veritable pictures of perfect health (“very little sickness of any kind,” “but few of other diseases”).

The members of the special committees also seemed keen to report any houses or facilities that seemed substandard and thus the sort of buildings in which lived disreputable sorts (“a very filthy, dirty place,” “several very filthy places”). Finally, the miasmic theory of putrefying matter in stagnant water also runs through the observations of the inspectors (“where water stands and stagnate,” “water standing under the floor”).

Left: Nineteenth-century poster touting cholera prevention measures

Within a matter of days, however, even the optimistic men of commerce could no longer ignore the cholera in their midst. The Board, which had previously dismissed the anti-cholera initiatives of Mayor Morton, suddenly changed its positions on proactive public health measures by 19 July 1849:
Board of Health
Since yesterday there have been 16 [cholera] cases and 5 deaths.

Mayor reported that he had directed the Marshall to take possession of the Draper House, corner of Summit and Locust streets for a Hospital - approved.

Street Commissioner reported that he had contracted for furniture for the Hospital - approved.

Mr. Bennett reported that he had procured a supply of Dr. Hawthorn's Cholera Remedies to be put up and kept on hand at all the drug stores - approved.

The Board recommended that the use of green vegetables be carefully avoided, and that veal and fresh pork be excluded form every table. Particular attention should be paid to personal cleanliness, to which frequent bathing is indispensable. Every kitchen and the grounds around every building and elsewhere, where filth is likely to accumulate should be cleansed and thoroughly limed. No tenement should be without a quantity of lime on hand.
Throughout the remainder of July, and the months of August and September 1849, the Toledo Blade and the Board of Health dutifully reported the “cases,” although rarely did either organization actually use the word “cholera” in the information presented to the public. In all, 80 cholera deaths were officially noted by the Board of Health in the 1849 outbreak, while over 200 people were sickened by V. cholerae that year. The Board, however, differentiated between official and unofficial cases, not counting any that were reported by “private” sources:
Since 4 o'clock P.M. yesterday, no cases have been officially reported to the Board. From private sources of information the Board feels authorized to report 7 cases and 4 deaths during the last 24 hours. Of the deaths, 3 were children and on an adult.
These “private” reports were not counted as part of the official death and disease tally, but rather left in a bureaucratic category unto themselves. The Board and the regional press used every means at their disposal to under-report cholera cases, as the potential economic losses from a panicked citizenry were apparently deemed more important than public health and safety.

Mean Jean Gets Spanked

(Columbus, OH) The Ohio Elections Commission on Thursday reprimanded US Rep. Jean Schmidt for claims last year on her Web site that she possessed two college degrees when she had only earned one.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that a letter citing the campaign's "reckless disregard for truth" was to be sent by the commission to Schmidt, her campaign and her husband, Peter, who acted as committee treasurer.

The ruling arrived five days before Schmidt faces former US Rep. Bob McEwen in a contest for the GOP nomination to represent Ohio's 2nd District Congress.

Schmidt went to Congress last year in a special election to replace Rob Portman, tapped by President Bush to become US trade representative before recently being named to head the White House budget office.
Oh, what tabgled webs we weave...

Rapid Rhetoric: CAPARISON

This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

caparison n. 1. an ornamental covering for a horse, and/or decorative trappings and harnesses; 2. particularly rich clothing or adornments.

The word caparison has etymological cousins in the obsolete French word caparasson, the modern French caparaçon , and the Old Spanish caparazón; all of these are derived from the Medieval Latin cappa.

Apr 28, 2006

Protests Aim to "Shut Cities Down"

Left: Aerial view of April 10 rally in LA

(Los Angeles, CA, Washington, DC) Pro-immigration activists have called for a national boycott and marches on Monday, May 1, and they claim millions of Latinos will take to the nation's streets to demand amnesty for illegal immigrants and influence immigration reform.

"For this day the purpose is clear: we will force a national boycott. On May 1, we're asking working men and women of immigrant origin and all its supporters to not go to work, not go to school, not to shop and not to sell anything," said Juan Jose Gutierrez, who is the national coordinator for the Latino Movement USA.

Hispanic leaders across the country are divided over Monday's boycott. Some call it a nonviolent protest in the mold of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., while others believe that too much protesting could hurt the cause of immigration reform.

Thousands of truck drivers working out of the Port of Los Angeles and cab drivers who serve Los Angeles International Airport are expected to strike for the day or possibly the week.

"If truckers aren’t trucking, the port isn’t working," said Los Angeles organizer Jim DeMaegt. "If cab drivers don’t drive, LAX will be shut down. Nobody knows precisely what will happen, but there is a lot of support."

Predicting the effects of the rallies depends largely on the turnouts.

"There will be 2 to 3 million people hitting the streets in Los Angeles alone. We're going to close down Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Tucson, Phoenix, Fresno," said Jorge Rodriguez, a union official who helped organize earlier rallies.

Among the most vocal in opposition to the rallies has been Jim Glichrist, founder of the Minutemen Project.

"It's intimidation," said Gilchrist. "It's intimidation when a million people march down main streets in our major cities under the Mexican flag. It angers the people you are trying to impress. This will backfire just like the Mexican flag parades backfired."

Of course, one might make the same argument of "intimidation" for stationing paramilitary forces like the Minutemen on the border.

Now that the boycott (or paro in Spanish) has been called, the organizers need to deliver on their plans, or face the prospect of appearing ineffective.

If nothing else, Monday appears to be gearing up to be a day to remember.

Apr 27, 2006

Bowling Green to Host Global Night Commute


(Bowling Green, OH) Hundreds of high school and college students will spend Friday night outside St. Aloysius Church as part of the "Global Night Commute," which is designed to bring attention to the plight of children in Uganda.

The students and other people participating at the vigil will meet at 7:30 at the Union Oval at Bowling Green State University, and proceed to walk to St. Aloysius. The vigil will continue until 7:00 am Saturday morning.

The movement began with the production of the film "Invisible Children," which is the tale of tens of thousands of northern Ugandan children fleeing the Lord’s Resistance Army . The LRA is a rebel paramilitary group largely filled with youngsters who were abducted in the middle of the night.

The children were tortured, indoctrinated, and forced to fight in the region’s 20-year-old civil war. As many as 30,000 children have been kidnapped from their villages and forced to serve as soldiers and sex slaves for the rebels.

Over 48,000 people have committed to taking part in vigils this weekend, hoping to raise both awareness and money for the humanitarian efforts to save Ugandan children.

On Chernobyl and Nuclear Power

(Toledo, OH) Depending on which dateline you fall under, either yesterday or today is the twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

I heard a twenty-something news anchor mangle the pronunciation of "Chernobyl" last night, and it occurred to me that the youngish newscaster could be forgiven. After all, the person was likely a small child when the partial meltdown occurred in Reactor 4 on April 26, 1986.

Figures vary widely on the human costs of the catastrophe. Approximately 55 people died from radiation poisioning in the days and weeks immediately following the tragedy. Thousands more died from cancer and other diseases since 1986, while many thousands more will likely suffer reduced lifespans from acquired radiation-related diseases.

Greenpeace claims that 93,000 people have already died from radiation-related illnesses, and the group argues that in "Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine alone the accident could have resulted in an estimated 200,000 additional deaths in the period between 1990 and 2004."

Radioactive fallout from the disaster has spread throughout the northern hemisphere, circling the globe. The nations of Belarus and the Ukraine have been hardest hit, and areas of Russia continue to show dangerous levels of residual radiation.

Surprisingly the Ukraine government continued to operate the facility until 2000, arguing that the energy needs of the nation outweighed any risks to workers or the surrounding countryside.

Reactor 4 remains encased in a concrete "sarcophagus," and the deadly radioactive material threatens to seep into the groundwater.

Which brings us to the important question of the day: do the needs of Americans for affordable energy outweigh the unique risks associated with nuclear power? The dramatic rise in oil prices has generated calls for a renewed American nuclear energy effort.

While some might dismiss Chernobyl as indicative of the inefficiency of the Soviet system, the Davis-Besse plant near Toledo, Ohio came dangerously close to a similar fate several years ago. Corrosion on a reactor head created holes that were a mere 5/8" from being exposed to an uncontrollable meltdown.

This near-disaster could have been as deadly - or worse - than the catastrophe in Chernobyl. Look at your children before you answer.

New Father Gerald Robinson Case Site

Left: Father Gerald Robinson, courtesy of realnews247.com

(Toledo, OH) I am up to my eyeteeth in a thesis and some editing projects (not to mention my work as a journalist), and I have had to pass up on my SECOND chance to go on CNN.

This opportunity was with Nancy Grace. I will probably kick myself in the arse for skipping the TV spot, but there is no way I can pull it off right now. I have written on the case locally, but there are far more up-to-speed people who would make excellent analysts.

CNN - call Bill Frogameni, for one.

Anyways, for those looking for good coverage of the tial, I heartily recommend Toledo blogger Lisa Renee Ward's new site. She has been following the case closely for some time now, and has collected one of the best resource sites around. She doesn't like to use the word "journalist," but her work is as good or better than many of the hacks covering this trial, and she is digging up some of the hidden angles.

Apr 26, 2006

Comment Verification Turned Back On


(Toledo, OH) As much as I hate the word verification feature for comments, I have been forced by a persistent, filthy spammer to re-install this anti-spam check.

The twit - or perhaps spam bot - keeps pushing "a place where you can
make some nice extra cash secret shopping" with a hyperlink to some scam site.

So, I apologize for the annoyance of the word verification, but I tire of deleting 30 or more of these stupid messages a day.

Rapid Rhetoric: MÉSALLIANCE

This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

mésalliance n. mistaken marriage; marriage into a lower social class.

From the French words més-, ("bad") alliance, ("alliance," "marriage")

Here is a quotation from the George Eliot novel Daniel Deronda (1876):

"It shows the Arrowpoints' good sense, however, to have adopted the affair, after the fuss in the paper," said Sir Hugo. "And disowning your own child because of a mésalliance is something like disowning your one eye: everybody knows it's yours, and you have no other to make an appearance with."

Don Monroe Speaks about Marina District

Left: Earlier vision of proposed Marina District, courtesy of Pizzuti.com

This article also appears in the Toledo Free Press

(Toledo, OH) Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's decision to fire Columbus-based Pizzuti Companies as the developer for the proposed Marina District on April 3 has created an opportunity for the city to perform many of these duties in-house.

The man tapped by Finkbeiner to lead the project is Don Monroe, executive director of River East Development Corporation. Monroe has been involved with East Side development for more than 30 years.

Monroe said he was never involved in the decision to bring on Pizzuti in the first place.

"That decision was made on the part of the Ford administration," he said. "I did not participate in that process at all."

The amount of actual work done by Pizzuti, according to Monroe, remains unclear. He said the developer and its subcontractors were paid approximately $250,000 for their work prior to the termination of the Pizzuti contract.

"It's hard to evaluate. Obviously, they didn't get any development done, and they did not put in place any commitments to developments that were already in place in the city or the port, such as the marina and the boat terminal," he said. "It's hard to put a value on their predevelopment activities."

Monroe said the mayor's decision to fire Pizzuti was primarily one of performance.

"I believe that was a guiding point with the mayor. He made it clear early in his administration that he expected results," he said. "So, if the mayor had other reasons, they were secondary to the non-delivery of an anchor tenant by Pizzuti."

Monroe said he believes the enormity of the Marina District has scared off many developers.

"Anything of this magnitude as a redevelopment project takes a lot of money and energy," he said. "Most prospective developers never submitted a proposal; they just gave their qualifications. We've already had two developers come and go on this project."

Among the ideas Finkbeiner and the development team are exploring is the possibility of a boardwalk and waterway system in the Marina District.

"We'd need to evaluate the cost and value to our community if we did put some sort of a waterway system there," he said. "But in addition to building a canal, we're looking at several piers and lagoons that can help fund development."

There may be some other changes from previous visions of the Marina District, Monroe said.

"We are tentatively looking at adding an amphitheater in International Park as well as a visitors' center," he said. "We are expanding the boundaries of the Marina District to include most of International Park, and we want to expand the amount of housing shown in the earlier proposals."

Monroe said he has heard little new about the possibility of potential retail anchor Bass Pro making a decision about its new location.

"I personally don't know any more than I did the day after they were here. It's a pretty tight-lipped corporate group," he said. "They are pretty much in the driver's seat, especially with the legislation just passed in Columbus designed for them. I don't know that anyone is in a position to influence them, but they have said they want a store open in 2007."

Despite problems the Marina District has faced, Monroe said he is optimistic the Finkbeiner administration has the pieces in place for a successful project.

"We shouldn't slight the cleanup; the city has completed work in excess of $10 million," he said. "There will be a marina, and there will be a terminal. The marina should be completed in less than a year, and the terminal should be started in less than a year."

Monroe said skeptical observers of the Marina Project should understand there is one significant change in the newest incarnation of the development team.

"At this point, this one is being wholly driven by the city, as opposed to outside interests," he said. "That's the important difference, and we have a mayor who is fully committed to making this project succeed."

Apr 25, 2006

1849 Cure for Diarrhea

(Toledo, OH) As an 1849 outbreak of cholera hit Northwest Ohio, civic leaders worked hard to keep the citizenry from any knowledge of the arrival of the disease.

After all, the typical response in cases of epidemic disese was a flight to the countryside, which would have disastrous effects on the local economy. The typical response by a city's leaders would be to deny the obvious as long as possible, and keep news of the outbreak of disease very quiet.

That is, unless the disease appeared in a rival town, and then plenty of attention would be given to the epidemic that struck everywhere but here.

The Toledo Blade in the nineteenth century was no stranger to the process of hushing up epidemics, as the paper valued the advertising revenue of its commercial clients. However, in the midst of the "epidemic-that-wasn't," the paper ran an interesting recipe for curing acute diarrhea, one of the hallmarks of cholera:

For Diarrhea
Tincture of Opium.......1/2 ounce
Tincture of Cathechu....1/2 ounce
Spirits of Lavender.......6 drams
Spirits of Camphor........2 drams

DOSE - teanspoonful every hour until relief is procured.

The above prescription is from Dr. Morton, of Sandusky City, furnished to us by a gentleman of this city, who has made use of it with great success. We are informed that is generally used and approved in Sandusky.

Opium, of course, is a potent narcotic, and the cathecu plant produces the betel nut, a potent stimulant more akin to cocaine than caffeine.

I am not sure if the cure worked, but a person could have a heck of a time with this concoction.

Warning: Stepped-Up I-475 Patrols

(Toledo, OH) With construction near I-475 and US-23 in Sylvania the Ohio State Patrol has increased the number of traffic cars on both eastbound and westbound I-475.

Of particular note to motorists is the hiding place on westbound I-475, where merging traffic from southbound I-75 meets the freeway.

I have seen a car there each of the last three days, and they are busy collecting revenue - I mean protecting public safety - for the state of Ohio.

Personally, I hope to never again get a ticket. I have been point-less for some time now (some would say I have always been pointless, but that is another story), and the decline in insurance rates is an added bonus.

Egyptian Police Arrest 3 in Dahab Bombings

Left: The bombs destroyed storefronts along the Dahab promenade; photo courtesy of AP.com

(Dahab, Egypt) Egyptian police arrested three people today in relation to the coordinated bomb attack that ripped throught this Sinai beach resort at the height of Egypt's tourist season, killing as many as 40 people and injuring hundreds.

It is not yet known if the suspects have connections with international terrorist organizations, although media reports indicate that a caller claimed responsibility for al Qaeda.

The explosions, however, came a day after Osama bin Laden issued a call to radical Muslims to support al-Qaeda in fighting what he calls "a war against Islam by the Crusaders."

Dahab has long been a destination for western tourists, and traditionally catered to the sort of backpacking, lower-budget vacationers attracted by its scuba diving, deap sea fishing, and inexpensive accommodations. In recent years more upscale facilities have begun to spring up on the coast, including a 5-star Hilton hotel.

Striking as they did in the height of the Coptic Easter season, the bombers likely sought to disrupt Egypt's lucrative tourist trade.

Apr 24, 2006

Lawn Mower Maintenance Tip

Left: Typical lawn mower carburetor; the float bowl is at the very bottom in this image

(Toledo, OH) Being someone who absolutely hates to pay a repair person when I can spend four hours tearing something apart myself (generally with good results, although I occasionally create some interesting home repair highlights), I thought I would share a simple maintenance tip that might save you a few dollars on repairs.

Diligent homeowners remember to run their lawn mowers in the fall until the machine has consumed the last of the fuel. This keeps any fuel from remaining in the system from degrading over the winter.

Then there are the rest of us, who remember this advice in springtime.

The problem is that the degraded gasoline loses much of its combustibility when it stagnates.

I used to struggle starting my mower in the spring until a friend taught me a simple trick. At the very bottom of most simple carburetors is what is known as a float bowl. Holding the bowl in place is usually a single hex bolt.

Using the appropriate-sized socket or wrench, loosen the bolt; keep a small bowl underneath to catch any remaining fuel. Clean the bowl and reinstall, making sure to put the float bowl gasket in place too.

You might want to take this time to replace the spark plug, oil, and air filter, as well. Place clean, new fuel in the tank, and VROOOM! Away you go.

My friend, who does small engine repair on the side, said that he often makes an easy $25 by simply cleaning out last fall's funky old gas and replacing the spark plug on mowers.

Also, that old gasoline can be recycled in with the new gas you just bought, as long as the ratio of new to old gas is at least 4:1.

Mubarak: "A Wicked Terrorist Act"

Left: Tourists aid a victim of the terror attacks in Dahab

(Dahab, Egypt) Three explosions ripped throught the Egyptian resort town of Dahab today, leaving as many as 40 people dead and hundreds wounded.

One blast hit a tourist restaurant, another tore through a hotel and the third explosion was detonated in a supermarket in the resort town's tourist area about 7:15 p.m. local time (1:15 EST).

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called the explosions a "wicked terrorist act," and local groups claiming al-Qaeda ties took responsibility.

"The president stressed the need to ... track down those responsible for this wicked terrorist act, so that they pay the penalty by force of law," the state news agency MENA said.

Coming on the Coptic Easter holiday, the attacks were likely intended to hit the Egyptian government where it is most vulnerable - its lucrative tourist industry. Similar terrorist attacks have occurred in Sinai resort areas over the past 18 months.

The bombings also come one day after Osama bin Laden released his latest video, which called for actions against the West and governments in the Middle East that are in league with the West.

A witness said the Al Capone restaurant, one of the area's most popular spots for tourists, was completely destroyed.

"The tables and chairs have gone, there is nothing left," said Joseph Nazir, who owns a safari company in Dahab. "Everybody is panicking, a lot of people are crying. We will be affected by this for a long, long time."

Blasts Rock Egyptian Resort of Dahab


(Dahab, Egypt) Three explosions rocked the Sinai resort city of Dahab today, leaving at least 35 people dead and more than 200 wounded.

Body parts and piles of debris were seen in the streets after an explosion in a restaurant that caters to tourists, residents said. A witness said that cars and buses leaving the resort were being stopped and searched by police.

Coming in the midst of an Egyptian holiday, these coordinated terror attacks seem aimed at striking at the Egyptian government, viewed by radical Islamists as a tool of the West. Egypt relies heavily on its tourist industry for tax revenue and foreign currency.

"There is smoke coming from the area and there are people running everywhere," Reuters quoted a witness as saying.

Groups claiming links to al-Qaeda took responsibility for the attacks; Egyptian officials say that new militant Islamic groups have developed in the Sinai peninsula. Authorities do not know if there exist solid connections between the Dahab bombers and al-Qaeda or other international terrorist networks.

Oh, How I Love Blogger


(Toledo) I apologize to site visitors for the lack of posts and any difficulty in loading this page today.

Blogger, it seems, has been experiencing some massive server and network problems. Of course, given the fact that Blogger provides little in the way of updates, and never answers emails, I have had to surf message boards to learn anything.

This only reinforces my resolve to obtain a separate doamin name for this site.

Thank you for your patience.

Rapid Rhetoric: ZOANTHROPY

This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

zoanthropy n. delusion of a person who believes himself changed into an animal. It is related to the mythical condition of lycanthropy, a supernatural affliction in which people are said to physically shapeshift into werewolves.

Clinical lycanthropy is a rare condition, and it is considered to be an expression of a psychotic episode caused by another condition such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or clinical depression.

Apr 23, 2006

Diversion: Shakespearean Insult Generator

Left: Wit and more

(Toledo, OH) The Bard was not only a prolific playwright but also one of the quickest wits in his - or any - generation.

With that in mind, be sure to check out this random generator of insults penned by William Shakespeare.

Here is the first insult that rose as a virtual challenge to my site trespassing (taken from All's Well That Ends Well:

"Methink'st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee."

Enjoy thee this villainous abominable misleader of youth!

(swiped from Hamlet, Act II)

Protesters Ignore Curfew in Nepal Capital

An opposition party supporter with the slogan 'Loktantra Zindabad' painted on his head, courtesy of AP.com

(Kathmandu, Nepal) A popular uprising that has engulfed this Himalayan nation for the past 18 days has moved beyond its pro-democratic roots to become a movement against the Nepalese monarchy itself.

At least 23 people were injured today in clashes between protesters and police in different parts of the city, as security forces fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the crowds. King Gyanendra's offer to deliver power to an alliance of seven political parties has failed to quell protests against his rule.

Gyanendra seized control of the federal government last year, arguing that the political parties had failed to bring stability or end a 10-year communist insurgency.

Opposition leaders are reportedly debating whether they should reinstate parliament themselves, thereby setting up their own government to run parallel to that of King Gyanendra.

Among the protesters Sunday was S.M. Dixit, a 64 year-old physician who supports that idea.

"It is the right of the people, the democratic right of the people to form a parallel government," he said. "Because we do not accept this government. We never accepted this government. We have a right to form our own government and that government must come out whether the king wants it or not."

The opposition coalition called for street protests to continue throughout the week, including another massive rally Tuesday.

"We urge all the people, the old and the young alike, to come out of their homes, their villages, their neighbourhoods and get to the nearest point on the ring road for the mass rally," read a statement from the coordinating body.

Nepal, a nation of some 28 million people, is nestled in the Himalayas between China and India. The country is the only official Hindu state in the world. Eight of the ten highest mountain peaks - including Mount Everest - are located in Nepal.

Any Problems Loading This Page?


(Toledo, OH) I received an email the other day from a reader who said that the Index page for this site loads with all of the posts starting below the point where my sidebar ends (links and all that stuff).

Is this happening when you visit this site?

I checked my template, and it seems as though there is sufficient space allocated (30 px) for there not to be an overlap between the sidebar and the area where the posts are.

If you are having difficulty, I would greatly appreciate any feedback.

Bush: "Tough Summer" Ahead

Left: President Bush at a fuel cell plant in West Sacramento, CA

(Washington, DC) President George W. Bush believes that rising oil prices spell difficulties ahead for American consumers.

"We're going to have a tough summer because people are beginning to drive now during tight supply," Bush said. "The American people have got to understand what happens elsewhere in the world affects the price of gasoline you pay here."

These are some of the first comments Bush has made about the recent spike in oil and gasoline prices, and some pundits believe that the President's remarks indicate that the GOP is worried that gas prices could be a political albatross in the 2006 elections.

Bush, however, continues to look at the demand side of the equation.

We've got a real problem when it comes to oil. We're addicted, and it's harmful for the economy, and it's harmful for our national security," he said. "The American people have got to understand what happens elsewhere in the world affects the price of gasoline you pay here."

Certainly the demand for oil in countries like China and India has contributed to the reduction in supplies. However, the President dodged the issue of recent saber-rattling with Iran as a contributory factor.

The President also avoided the issue that the major oil companies and cartels are reaping record profits.

"We're watching real carefully to make sure people are treated fairly," the president said, though failing to offer specifics on how the federal government is monitoring price-gouging.

The controversy over big oil profits became even more heated when it was announced last week that outgoing Exxon CEO Lee Raymond received a retirement package of over $400 million in December.

Apr 22, 2006

Report: "Nazis Run Scared Out of Sacramento"

Left: State capitol building in Sacramento, CA

(Sacramento, CA) Looks like a good day for the antifa; a news item on Indybay.com reports that a crowd of 50 anti-Nazis chased 6 uniformed NSM members away from the California state capitol.

This comes on top of a strong turnout of anti-Nazi protestors in Lansing, MI; some 1,300 people protested or attended an alternate rally, while only 77 members of the National Socialist Movement managed to show up.

From the Indybay posting:

"After a short standoff, the CHP were heard telling the Nazis to leave, and that 'there was only so much they can do', seeing as the crowd was ready to tear them to shreds. The Nazis tucked their tails and took off in their aqua colored Toyota Tercel liscence plate 3EME340 and ran scared."

More as it comes in...

Lansing Leaderboard Tally: 1300 Antis, 400 Cops, 81 Reporters, 77 Nazis

Left: Lansing police officer gets ready for the NSM rally, courtesy of Lansing State Journal

(Lansing, MI) The early results are in from Nazifest 2006 in Lansing, and it looks like the NSM has produced another expensive (for taxpayers) dud. No surprise there.

The most accurate counts I have seen so far point to a total of 77 Nazis and assorted white nationalists in attendance at the rally on the steps of the Michigan state capitol. This is a far cry from the 200 predicted by NSM spokesman Bill White, although White's counting methods suggest that the man may be cross-eyed.

The estimates I have read suggest a cost of $250,000 to Lansing and the state of Michigan, which works out to a cost of $3,246 to protect each Nazi from getting their skulls kicked in by throngs of protesters.

In a way this rally was more cost-effective than some of the previous NSM circuses. The two Toledo rallies cost, respectively, $12,692 and $7,895 per Nazi in protection costs (based upon turnouts of 26 Nazis at Toledo I and 38 at Toledo II, with security costs of $330K and $300K).

The best news, though, is that injuries and property damage were minimal. A Lansing State Journal reporter saw an early scuffle in which a protester sustained a head laceration, and reports indicate that both sides were, in the main, orderly and law-abiding.

OK - the most important part - assessing my predictions:

Historymike predicted...45 Nazis, 77 showed up.
Historymike predicted... Bill White would say 190 Nazis, but so far he says 160. I could win this one, since his counts usually grow as time passes.
Historymike predicted...600 antis, and 800 showed up, plus 500 people at the diversity rally.
Historymike predicted...36 arrests, only 15 so far.

I say that my reputation as the Midwest's preeminnent Nazi rally handicapper is still intact. Nikki and Harry Schwartz still reign as champs worldwide.

Early News From Lansing Nazi Rally


(Lansing, MI) Left: Aerial view of NSM members getting ready to caravan to state capitol, courtesy of WZZM - Grand Rapids

The Lansing State Journal is reporting that the totals for the National Socialist Movement (NSM) rally in the Michigan state capitol are 800 protesters and 75 Nazis.

I received a phone call from a member of the antifa who said the Nazis numbered "60-70," and that "there may be a thousand protesters."

The caller said that the Nazis cannot be heard because their "sound system is pathetic" and that the chants of the protesters "are drowning out the fascists."

Addendum, 4:09 pm: WWJ Radio 950 in Detroit had a reporter on the scene who just provided an update. He said that there have been 11 arrests so far for various protest-related infractions, including disorderly conduct.

The on-site reporter said that "the Nazis were outnumbered by reporters 81-77" by his count.

He added that there were an additional 500 people attending the city's diversity rally held away from the state capitol.

True to form, Bill White of the NSM is saying that the NSM had 120 or more people. That's at least a 50% inflation rate over the numbers provided by on-site observers.

Addendum, 4:49 pm: Bill White's count is now up to 160 NSM supporters. He claims that there were 40 in the crowd in addition to his count of 120. Let the spin continue.

White also adds that NSM members were left in the motel rooms, lost in the caravans, and denied entry by police, although he has yet to claim that the Jew-dominated media Photo-Shopped out supporters from their photos, like he has at past rallies. I suspect he will continue to play creative accounting games until he gets to a number over 200.

Dear Bill: People might actually take the NSM more seriously if you were not such a notorious liar. Better to say "75 diehard stormtroopers" than to create such laughable - and easily dismissed - fabrications.

Addendum, 5:12 pm: The Lansing State Journal has upped the number of arrests to 15. They counted 800 protesters at the rally, and, coupled with the 500 attendees of the diversity rally at Eastern High School, this brings the score to 1,300 Non-Nazis, 77 Nazis. Sounds like a blowout.

Avoiding Cholera: 1849 Advice from Toledo Blade


While working in the archives today I came across the following poem - no author was listed - in the June 16, 1849 edition of the Toledo Blade.

Anti-Choleric Prescriptions

Don't get in a fluster and go on a buster,
nor allow yourself to be terrified;
But keep a cool head, and never be liked,
to join a hurrah and a spree.

If a sparking you go, and we know you do so,
keep an eye on the time as it flies;
And now do you see, don't stay later than three,
if you are anyways modelly wise.

Don't dread it all, be ye young or small,
neither be overly rash;
But keep calmly on, as ye always have done,
and avoid eating acid and trash.

Be tidy and clean, avoid everything green,
whether it be cabbage or krout;
And quite skimming you'll go, if you take for a motto:
"always know what you're about."

At the time the understanding of cholera was that the disease struck person so flow character, and that the disease was spread in a miasmic fashion; that is, foul odors wafting from putrefying garbage, dead bodies of victims, and through poor hygiene.

We have since learned that cholera is a water-borne disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The microbes are ingested by drinking contaminated water, or by eating improperly cooked fish and shellfish.

On the same day that this poem ran, the city of Toledo released this report:

Board of Health, June 21st.
There has been no case of cholaera in this city up to this time. The report in circualtion this morning as to there being some cases on canal boats just arrived, is without foundation. By order of the Board.

Of course, every other city in the eastern half of the US was reporting the epidemic. Here is a sampling from the telegraph postings on the same day in the Blade:

BY TELEGRAPH For the Blade by O'Rielly's Line

New York, June 23
48 cases and 11 deaths by cholera since last report.

Cincinnati, June 22
C.M. Clay, at the last accounts, was in a fair way of recovering. Cholera has assumed a more general form. Several very respectable citizens have died.

Richmond, June 21
Four cases of Cholera and one death.

St. Louis, June 22
Accounts have reached here, of a renewal of disturbances between the emigrants and Indians, and a number of both have been killed. Cholera was making sad havoc among the emigrants. Parties of stragglers are daily returning.

Buffalo, June 23
Cholera, 6 cases and 2 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Toledo did not officially admit any cases until mid-July 1849. This was a common practice among municipalities - report the epidemic elsewhere, but deny that the disease was manifest "in our fair city." This sort of head-in-the-sand thinking likely prolonged and worsened the ravages of cholera.

Apr 21, 2006

Neo-Nazi Teens Vowed to Shoot Up School

Left: A student stands outside Riverton HS, courtesy of AP

(Riverton, KS) Five teens intended to go on a shooting spree at their high school but were prevented from carrying out the plot after one of the group discussed the plot on a Web site, according to law enforcement and school officials.

One of the arrested students had posted a message on his MySpace account in which he talked about the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birth as well as the Columbine shootings, both of which share an April 20 date.

Police found guns, ammunition, knives and coded messages in the bedroom of one suspect, while discovering documents about firearms and references to Armageddon in the school lockers of two other suspects.

"What the resounding theme is: They were actually going to do this," said Sheriff Steve Norman. "The message, it was brief, but it stated that there was going to be a shooting at the Riverton school and that people should wear bulletproof vests and flak jackets."

Riverton school district Superintendent David Walters said the significance of the threat didn't become clear until Wednesday night. At that point a woman in North Carolina who had chatted with one of the suspects on Myspace.com received more information that there would be about a dozen potential victims, and at least one of those would be a staff member.

The woman notified authorities in her state, who called the local sheriff's department, Norman said.

The sheriff reported that the potential victims were popular students and that the suspects - ages 16-18 - may have been bullied in the past.

"I think there was probably some bullying, name calling, chastising," he said, adding that investigators learned the suspects were computer buffs who liked violent video games.

MySpace.com has pulled the related sites.

Riverton student Michaela Ferneau said Friday was told that she was one of the targets. One of the teen suspects had talked to her about the Columbine massacre in January.

"We thought he was joking because he was always joking about stuff like that," Ferneau told ABC on Friday. "I guess I told on them, apparently, when I didn't know I did. It's kind of scary to know that people from a little town like this would even try anything like that."

Oil Breaks $75 per Barrel

Left: Traders in the oil futures pit of the NY Mercantile Exchange, courtesy of AP

(New York) Light sweet crude for June delivery rose to $75 a barrel in early afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, setting a new record.

Brent crude for June rose to $73.15 a barrel on London's ICE Futures exchange over Western fears of the Islamic Republic's determination to push ahead with its uranium enrichment plans.

The likelihood increases that oil may hit $85 per barrel during the peak summer demand, which could send gasoline prices skyrocketing to $3.50 a gallon or more in the US.

Explosion Jars West Toledo Neighborhood

Left: Artist's rendition of the explosion

(Toledo, OH) Residents in the vicinity of Secor and Laskey were startled by a loud explosion Friday morning that resembled a gunshot.

The cause of the loud noise was an over-inflated basketball, which - when being bounced on a resident's driveway - suddenly erupted at about 11:41 am.

"Holy crap, that was loud!" said one participant, identified only as "Mischievous Son on Vacation."

Neighbors near the explosion, however, did not particularly share the glee of the hoopsters, nor did a local historian ensconced in research at the time.

"I swear to God, there will come a day of reckoning," said the unidentified writer. "They, too, will one day have children, and the cycle will continue."

There were no reported injuries among the teens from either the explosion or by the irate parents of the hyperinflators. Investigators point to the removal of the basketball's outer leather layer as a primary cause in the explosion.

Rapid Rhetoric - CACHEXY

This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

cachexy (sometimes called cachexia) - n. 1. Particularly bad state of health as a result of malnutrition or starvation; 2. depraved manner of thinking, mental deficiencies.

The adjective is "cachectic," and there is a potential adverb form of "cachectically." The word is also sometimes spelled without the [h], as "cacexy." The word is derived from the Greek words kakos ("poor") and hexis ("state" or "disposition").

Apr 20, 2006

Great Black Swamp Settlement and Endemic Malaria


Another excerpt in an ongoing research project on the Great Black Swamp's disease history in which I am engulfed

As the military campaigns against Native Americans and their sometime British cohorts ended, white settlers staked land claims in and around the Great Black Swamp; this process was hastened with the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Contemporaneous with the arrival of such settlement was the documentation of the presence of certain “intermittent” and “remittent” fevers in humans who lived in and around the Swamp.

The Reverend Joseph Badger, a Connecticut Missionary Society preacher, made his first journey through the Swamp en route to Detroit beginning September 9, 1801. His journal notes on September 23 that he “began to feel unwell” as he returned to the rapids of the Maumee. On September 27, he recorded the following entry in his journal:
This morning I shook with the ague, followed by a high fever; Saturday took calomel; Sabbath took an emetic before the fit came on. I shook, however, at a fearful rate. Took calomel and jalap on Monday. Having medicine with me, I continued to take an emetic before the shake came on, and calomel the next day, for four or five days in succession. The ague and fever left me in a feeble state...
The fever and ague continued to plague Badger as he wound his way eastward through the Swamp and into northeastern Ohio. He suffered a serious relapse in late October:
This morning I was very unwell; had considerable fever; and was able to sit up but little...[h]ad this morning [November 1, 1801] a return of fever; was unable to sit up or entertain any hope of going for some time...[h]ere I was confined eleven days, the most of the time to my bed...
By November 12, Badger’s condition deteriorated at a rapid pace:
I was so reduced as not to be able to mount my horse without help…On the 15th, just before I arrived at Esquire Hopkins’, the whole of my left side was struck with a paralytic shock, so that it was difficult for me to walk or use my left hand; my left eye, and the muscles of my face, were so affected that the eyelash had lost its power; my mouth was drawn out of shape, and my tongue so affected that I could not speak freely, or take food without difficulty.
Badger’s description of his symptoms is entirely consistent with those associated with cerebral malaria, in which the untreated P. falciparum parasites attack the tissues of the brain and the rest of the central nervous system. Seizures, altered consciousness, and paralysis can be manifestations of cerebral malaria.
Left: A portion of the remaining Swamp

The journal of William C. Holgate documented the perception held by those outside the region that the Great Black Swamp was an area of ill health. Holgate captured his thoughts as he sailed up the Maumee River from Lake Erie in the following passage:
The rich growth of trees on either side of the river, here and there the log cabin surrounded by pleasant beautiful fields and blooming orchards tended to rouse within me feelings, that almost obscured the deep dre[a]d and antipathy which had previously imbibed against it on acct. of the tremendous sickliness of the region.
James Bowland moved to the area of Lower Sandusky with his parents in 1835 while he was still a child. He saw the Swamp in a near-pristine state, and described conditions in the region in the following passage from his memoirs:
Among the early pests about the home were swarms of house flies, gad flies, blue bottle flies, and millions of mosquitos. The swales and marshes and other pools of stagnant water afforded a great breeding place for them, as well as for fever and ague...It was a great relief when cold weather put an end to these pests.
Caleb Atwater was a writer and politician who arrived in Ohio in 1815. Though rife with errors and dodged by accusations of plagiarism, his A History of the State of Ohio (1838) contains numerous references to the unhealthy reputation of Northwest Ohio. In the following passage the author references the toll that the Swamp took on soldiers passing through:
The black swamp has already cost the nation a million of dollars, besides many brave men who perished from the sickness which they caught wading through it. Pittsburgh and Greensburgh in Pennsylvania, and Petersburgh in Virginia, will long remember those who thus perished and were buried in this black swamp. Ohio lost in the same way, and in the same swamp, not a few of her best soldiers.
Daniel and Experience Parsons lived in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan for several decades, arriving in Chesterfield Township (near modern-day Morenci, MI) in 1834. Experience maintained correspondence with her brother, who lived in Maine. In an 1837 letter Experience described the improvement in health as compared to the time the family spent in the Swamp west of Sandusky:
As for health I believe it [Chesterfield Township] to be healthy. My family has enjoyed good health since we came to this country, much better than we ever did in Ohio.
At least one member of the Parsons family remained in the Sandusky area; Experience recounted the health travails of her son William in 1839; the sudden turn in fortunes for William – who believed he was suffering from a typical bout with ague – suggests either the onset of cerebral malaria, or the confluence of an opportunistic infection that ravaged the weakened immune system of the young man:
My husband went to Sandusky the fore part of May where our son William died. He was unwell several days and his friends advised him to send for the doctor, but he said no. He was in the habit of having a sick spell every fall. It was nothing, he said, but the ague and he should be well in a few days. One of the neighbors gave him some medicine to brake [sic] the fever but, alas, it was no fever and ague. He grew worse and was not sensible…he lived but five days after he was taken and remained insensible. He died October 12, 1838.
Daniel Drake visited the region in the thousands of miles he traveled during the production of his medical opus. He described the endemic presence of “intermittent and remittent fevers” in Northwest Ohio:
I learned that, from the commencement of settlement down to the time of my visit, in 1842, the whole locality had been infested with these fevers; cases of which sometimes assumed a malignant and fatal character.
Father Alexis Campion sought to build an orphanage in Toledo, and traveled to Montreal in an attempt to persuade the Sisters of Charity to open a facility in the region. He painted for the Grey Nuns a rather grim picture of the disease environment of the young community at the time of his 1855 trip:
The inducements he offered were far from attractive. He drew a graphic picture of the dreary locality; the prevalence of malarial disease, resulting from stagnant pools and swamps found everywhere in the then unhealthy City, giving it the name of "Grave of the United States."
Waggoner also documented a tale in this morbid vein; the account revolved around a raconteur’s experience with a traveler. Asking for directions, the visitor was told to follow the “main traveled road.” The journey down this road, according to the story, brought the traveler to the local graveyard.

Recognizing the reputation of insalubrity associated with living in the vicinity of the Great Black Swamp, residents of the region considered ways in which they might counteract this ignominious standing. A movement thus arose to rename the river that was most closely linked with this status:
Other poets, too, had written so much on the unhealthy character of the Maumee Valley, that it was resolved, at a meeting held November 7, 1855, to call the river “Grand Rapids River,” and to give the bay and the valley the same name. It is worthy of note that Wood county took the initiative, in carrying out the resolution, by changing the name of the old town of Gilead to Grand Rapids.
The typical travails of nineteenth-century white settlers in the American wilderness - such as isolation, dangerous animals, and hostile indigenous peoples - made for a harsh life. In Northwest Ohio, though, the presence of endemic malaria created conditions even less conducive to population growth in the ranks of settlers.

Would-be Lawyer Bill White Loses Another One

NSM's Bill White playing lawyer in Toledo on December 9, 2005

(Lansing, MI) The National Socialist Movement, defended by wannabe Nazi attorney Bill White, lost in their attempts to get a judge to declare security measures for the April 22 rally illegal.

Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Paula Manderfield will allow police to use chain-link security fencing and metal detectors to separate Nazis and protesters at the Saturday rally.

Today's outcome is not unlike White's earlier efforts in Toledo to represent himself and the NSM in court. While an intelligent person, White continues to waste the time and money of himself, the NSM and the courts in these ill-conceived media events disguised as court proceedings.

Then again, perhaps it is only the publicity tht Bill White craves, and in that case he has achieved a smidgen of success.

Heckler Hauled Away at White House

Left: Woman in black just after heckling President Hu and just before getting escorted away from the South Lawn

(Washington, DC) In a strange twist of irony, a heckler was hauled away by Secret Service during the meeting of President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao just as President Bush was discussing freedom of speech.

"Stop persecuting the Falon Gong!" yelled the woman to President Hu as she was dragged away.

From the Drudge Report:

As Hu Jintao was speaking, as yells of protesters became audible, the screen went black. Feed then came back and once again went black when woman was once again audible. During CNN International's post-speech commentary, at mention of south lawn heckler, screen went black again... feed returned when topic was no longer being discussed...

More as I learn it...

Apr 19, 2006

On the Nazis and Their Trip to Lansing

Left: Teargas filling up the intersection of Mulberry and Central in Toledo on October 15

(Toledo, OH) The traveling road show of the National Socialist Movement will slither into Lansing, MI this Saturday, hoping for a repeat of the violence they inspired in Toledo last October 15.

Lansing city officials, however, have consulted with counterparts in Toledo over the past few weeks in an effort to share tactics on preventing violence that sometimes accompanies the NSM and similar groups.

Despite the claims of spokesNazi Bill White that the NSM is a law-abiding, peaceful bunch of red-blooded patriots, the real goal of the group is based on their dreams of sparking race wars.

I watched White and Mark Martin successfully stir the crowd up on October 15 with racial epithets. I later read their gleeful comments about the "true nature of blacks" after the angry crowd rioted.

While the NSM claims after every event that they have achieved a "great victory," only the violence of October 15 in Toledo seems to be a touchstone for the group.

The city of Lansing appears to be following the blueprint of the second Toledo rally by creating separate zones for the protesters and the Nazis.

My prediction: The NSM will draw 45 supporters, while claiming that another 100 got turned away by police and that the Jews in the media photoshopped another 45 out of all photos (historymike, by the way, has been dubbed "HistoryKike" by the NSM, and is a card-carrying member of said Jewish conspiracy, even though he is Catholic).

The fact that April 20 is the birthday of Adolf Hitler - and one of their reasons for gathering - will mean little to the rest of the white supremacists, many of whom scoff at the swastika-wearing NSM as "Hollywood Nazis."

They will be opposed by a crowd of 600 antifa (White will say 150), and the Lansing police (augmented by droves of Michigan State Police) arrest everyone who sneezes within a radius of 200 yards of the event.

The Nazis will go home, claim another "great victory," and three dozen protesters will get locked up for the weekend. Yet another snoozer in the annals of modern American Fascism.

In fact, I think I will stay home this weekend and work on some historical research that has been waiting to be completed. I originally toyed with the idea of driving the 90 minutes or so to Lansing and watching the clowns try to start another riot, but with gas approaching $3.00 a gallon here, I can find better entertainment locally.

Maybe I'll plant some asparagus.