Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial

I didn’t turn my attention to the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial in time to participate in the reenactment or even book passage on one of the cruises going out to watch it. That did not, however, stop me from going and seeing what I can see. By booking a day cruise to Put-in-Bay, I got to see some of the tall ships and I’ll get back for part of the festival. I think I’m going to see a little bit of Canada and the Dixie Highway, too.

The journal for the trip is here. This will be the only blog entry related to the trip and will serve to hold any and all comments.

I’ve Caught Up
(with a tiny piece of my world)

Feedly screen shotI subscribe to more than seventy blogs. Most are very quiet and some are probably dead. Only a half dozen or so actually publish much of anything on a regular basis. When I’m at home, leisurely sipping coffee, keeping up with them is simple and not a problem. When I’m traveling, it is simply not possible,

On a road trip where I’m maintaining a journal, my computer time is used for writing and editing photos not reading. I try to keep up with email and I do occasionally read a blog post but mostly they just pile up. When I got home from the recent Lincoln Highway trip, the unread pile contained nearly 800 items. I’ve been nibbling away at it and shortly before 7:00 on Thursday morning, I cleared the pile. I did it with my phone and captured the moment with the screen shot at right.

Using the phone helped and I suppose I should thank Google for that. I used to use a product called Google Reader for reading blogs. I actually used it for all RSS feeds but most of those come from blogs. A few months back, Google announced that they were dropping Reader on July 1, 2013. There was much alarm and a fair amount of anger but there were alternatives so things eventually settled down. Google giveth and Google taketh away.

I was alarmed and angry with everyone else but it didn’t last long. I tried a couple of the suggested alternatives and quickly settled on a product called Feedly. It was different and, of course, I didn’t like it being different but that didn’t last too long either. I accepted some things and Feedly, finding hordes of Google Reader refugees beating a path to their door, made some adjustments. I got all of my feeds switched over and even succeeded — eventually — in adding a few. Within a couple weeks of Google’s announcement, I was a happy Feedly user. Die, Google Reader, die. I care not a bit.

Then I made a wonderful discovery. I had Google Reader on my phone but almost never used it. There were problems. Sure, some of those problems may have been with the user but it never seemed to synchronize things quite right. An article read on the phone might show up as unread on the PC or vice versa and I swear that articles disappeared on their own now and then. That sort of thing did not happen without the phone app in the picture so I essentially quit using it.

Not surprisingly, after I’d installed Feedly on my PC, I was invited to put it on my phone and I did. I even used it a few time. Nothing bad happened. I used it some more and still nothing bad happened. Articles read on one platform showed up as read on the other and articles not read on either stayed unread on both. I was an even happier Feedly user and tried to convince myself that it was OK that Google Reader was allowed to live several more weeks.

I eat out frequently and I usually have a book or magazine next to my meal. With a back log of several hundred posts, I started reading my phone instead of a printed page. It took me thirty days to catch up after a thirty-five day trip. That means I was reading, or pretending to read, about twice as many articles per day as usual. I still read many at home on my PC but I probably read just as many on the phone. If I really did read half of the articles on the phone, then the phone was entirely responsible for the doubling and Google’s dropping of Google Reader is entirely responsible for me finding an application that allowed me to reliably read RSS feeds on my phone. Thanks Google. What’s next?

What a Regatta!

New Richmond River DaysSaturday’s cardboard boat race at New Richmond would have made a perfect topic for this week’s Sunday morning post except that the big tennis match already had the spot filled. But the mixture of creativity and calamity at the big race is too good to ignore so the blog gets two posts today. This year, for the first time ever, I made it in time for the parade.

New Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysThere were quite a few “normal” classic cars but I really liked the old Jeep. Then there was a large number of decorated golf carts, several horses, the New Richmond Marching Lions, and miscellaneous.

New Richmond River DaysFollowing the parade, I strolled through town looking over some of this year’s racers. I did not get an entry count but there was clearly no shortage of people ready to go floating down the Ohio on various cardboard based contrivances for the Twenty-First International Cardboard Boat Regatta. For many, me included, this is the center piece of New Richmond’s River Days.

New Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysI did, of course, intend to go down to the river’s edge at some point but these two beauties, which turned out to be the only entries in the “Mechanical Advantage” class really tugged on me. The business end of the “Row Man Chariot” looks like this.

New Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysI’m hoping these pre-race photos provide some sense of the variety of watercraft taking part in the race. The picture of the “Moon Shiner’s Express” next to “R.R.2” illustrates that there are sometimes differing opinions as to how much effort should go into racer construction.

Some in-race photos:

New Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysTo close things out, here’s a picture of the Log Ness Monster, which I captured in progress a couple of weeks ago, and a parting shot of the “Moon Shiner’s Express”.

My posts on the 2010 and 2011 Cardboard Boat Regattas might also be of interest. I was out of town in 2012.

Dennis at Tennis at Last

Western Southern Open 2013Cincinnati is home to “the oldest tennis tournament in the United States played in its original city”. What was once called the Cincinnati Masters began in 1899. Its current name is the Western & Southern Open. It’s a big deal with the world’s top ranked players, both men and women, competing. Despite that “original city” statement, the tournament site is no longer within the city limits of Cincinnati. It has moved several times in its 114 years and is now a little north of the big city near Kings Island Amusement Park and the smaller city of Mason. It has been there since 1979. During all of those thirty four years, I have lived no farther away than six miles and as near as three. This year I decided to see what was responsible for those annual traffic jams.

Play began this year with some qualifying matches on Saturday, August 10. Finals for both men and women take place today, August 18. I went Tuesday when things were interesting but not yet at fever pitch. The stadium behind the big TV screen in the picture at the top of this article, is Center Court. There are a total of sixteen courts at the Lindner Family Tennis Center including three smaller stadiums. All Center Court seating is reserved but a ticket there permits free run of all courts where most seating is open. One reason that Center Court is half empty in my pictures is that there is a lot going on and some people are watching matches on other courts. I suspect, though, that a bigger reason is that many with full series tickets simply skip the earlier matches.

Western Southern Open 2013Western Southern Open 2013Separate tickets are sold for day and evening sessions. My day session ticket entitled me to watch three matches at Center Court. The evening session would include two Center Court matches. I watched my first big time tennis match from beginning to end. It turned out to be the only one I would do that with. Through some mechanism that I never got around to investigating, the couple at the center of the first picture had won the right to do the pre-match coin flip. Lots of similar honors could be won such as as the on field seat occupied by a six year old boy during player warm-ups. The player on the couple’s left (viewer’s right) is Victoria Azarenka, the world’s number 2 ranked woman player. Her opponent is Vania King who won qualifying matches on Saturday and Sunday to get here. Azarenka easily took the first set but barely won the second in a tiebreak.

Western Southern Open 2013With the match over in two sets, I figured there would be a fair amount of time before the next one and left the stadium to look around. This is Hickory Robot, who I’d actually been hearing while inside the stadium and who I now could see as well as hear.

Western Southern Open 2013Western Southern Open 2013Western Southern Open 2013By the time I got back to my seat, the match between John Isner and Florian Mayer was in progress. Isner had been in the news recently and, although I did not remember his name, I did remember the news. Isner is the top ranked U.S. player and recently dropped from 20 to 22 resulting in there being no male from the USA in the top twenty for the first time since ATP rankings began in 1973. The current 22 did in the current 50 in two quick sets.

Western Southern Open 2013Western Southern Open 2013Western Southern Open 2013I took another break but before leaving the stadium, climbed to the last row of seats to take a look out over the complex. That’s the one-third scale Eiffel Tower at Kings Island in the background. Then I caught a little of the action between Mikhail Youzhny and Ernests Gulbis on the Grandstand Court and what was apparently a doubles match between shirts and skins on another court. In reality, I think that shirts and skins thing was just practice.

Western Southern Open 2013Western Southern Open 2013Western Southern Open 2013The third match at Center Court was pretty impressive. It took all three sets, including a tiebreak in the first set, for number 3 ranked David Ferrer to defeat number 102 Ryan Harrison. I knew Ferrer’s ranking from the schedule but had no idea what Harrison’s rank was. Had I realized the size of the disparity, I’d have been even more impressed with Harrison’s full court play and serves like this. selected the session I attended purely on convenience and felt lucky is seeing the number 2 ranked female, number 3 ranked male, and highest ranked American male in my three matches. That might not be luck, though. It may be that the level of talent at this tournament almost guarantees seeing players of that caliber at every session. As I headed out, I paused briefly to listen to Kelly Thomas and the Pickups and watch a bit of the action at Court 3. The second picture was taken from Court 3 showing courts 5 and 6 and illustrating just how much tennis is going on here. The last picture is of the Moet & Chandon stand by Center Court. Moet & Chandon is the official champagne of the tournament. Up in my old neighborhood, Greenville, Ohio, has hosted the World Horseshoe Pitching Championships on several occasions, most recently in 1999. I am sure they will be back someday and do not believe they have yet selected an official champagne. There lies opportunity.

At this article’s Sunday morning publication, the matches I watched on Tuesday are ancient history but two of the three players I saw win are still playing. Victoria Azarenka, winner of the first professional tennis match I ever saw, won again on Thursday , Friday, and Saturday and will face number 1 ranked Serena Williams in the WTA finals this afternoon. The winner of that second match, John Isner, is also playing today. He is pitted against Rafael Nadal for the championship after a march to the finals that included a victory over number 1 ranked  Novak Djokovic. Win or lose, I’m guessing that the next top twenty released will once again include an American male. David Ferrer, the third winner I watched on Tuesday, was eliminated on Thursday.

1940s Flashback

Cincinnati Museum Center 1940 WeekendCincinnati Museum Center held its first “1940’s Day” in 2011. It became “1940’s Weekend” in 2012 and is again a two day (Aug 10 & 11) event this year. The Museum Center occupies Union Terminal which saw its heaviest use in the 1940s. It opened in1933 with a capacity of 17,000 passengers per day; A number that not only seemed adequate but, with rail travel already on the decline, major overkill. It was World War II, of course, that changed that. The terminal became a hub for the movement of troops and as many as 34,000 passengers, twice as many as it was designed for, passed through it daily.

Cincinnati Museum Center 1940 WeekendCincinnati Museum Center 1940 WeekendThough it doesn’t completely ignore them, “1940’s Weekend” doesn’t focus on the horrors and hardships of the war years but on the bright spots they contained and the brighter years that followed. Music figured into many of the bright spots both then and now. The Jump ‘n’ Jive Show Band and several guest vocalists kept energetic attendees jumping and the Sweet and Lows roamed the building with their wonderful harmonies. The picture shows an “on location” performance of The Trolley Song (a.k.a. Clang Clang Clang went the Trolley).  The Sweet and Lows perform both days but the Jump ‘n’ Jive Show Band gives way to the P & G Big Band on Sunday.

Cincinnati Museum Center 1940 WeekendCincinnati Museum Center 1940 WeekendCincinnati Museum Center 1940 WeekendThe rotunda was filled with vendors of, mostly, railroad memorabilia and there were demonstrations of some of the grooming procedures of the day. The theater showed newsreels that were post war or at least post V-E Day. The picture I’ve posted is of General Eisenhower praising the rank and file members of every military branch for their war contributions. I also attended two live presentations in the theater.

Cincinnati Museum Center 1940 WeekendCincinnati Museum Center 1940 WeekendThe first was a recreation of an episode of the Seckatary Hawkins radio program. Seckatary Hawkins was the creation of Covington, Kentucky, native Robert Franc Schulkers. The mystery solving character first appeared in 1918 in the Cincinnati Enquirer then in novels and a radio program. Initially the show was done in Cincinnati by Schulkers and friends and family but it soon moved to Chicago where professional actors filled the roles. Following the presentation of a little history, a volunteer cast was assembled and a fine performance delivered. The once huge Seckatary Hawkins Fair and Square club has been revived and you can join for free. I did.

Cincinnati Museum Center 1940 WeekendThe second presentation stepped away from music and laughter. For the first time, each day of the weekend will feature a Holocaust survivor presenting their own story. Today’s speaker was Werner Coppel who had been sent to Auschwitz-Buna as a teenager. He subsequently escaped during a death march. I have seen movies and read books and have had other personal Holocaust stories told to me directly but none more insightful or delivered as articulately as what I heard today. Calling it a highlight may seem strange but that’s what it was for me. There is a short video of a previous Werner Coppel talk here. Henry Fenichel will share his story on Sunday. He can be seen in a video here.

Trip Peek #10
Trip #72
Christmas on the Alafia

US 1 in Key WestThis picture is from the my 2008 Christmas on the Alafia road trip which was my third “Christmas Escape Run”. The Alafia is a river just south of Tampa, Florida, where my great-grandparents spent Christmas Eve in 1920. By sticking to expressways, I managed to get there on Christmas Eve 2008. I didn’t get to hang out on the river bank as they did but I did get to hang out with some of the wintering circus folk at the Showtown Bar in Gibsonton. I then drove the Tamiami Trail and a lot of Dixie Highway before reaching home on January 3. I slipped into Key West on the 27th but didn’t even spend the night. The END 1 sign was just about the last thing I saw before I started driving north looking for a vacant motel room I could afford. That didn’t happen until I reached Florida City back on the mainland.

Trip Pic Peek #9 — Trip #66 — 2008 Route 66 Festival

Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.