I Care Not How. Only If. (2015)

I first posted this last year with the intention of reposting it every year just ahead of election day. I realize that the “I Care Not.” in the title loses some credibility following last week’s post on a couple of Ohio ballot issues but that doesn’t alter the core sentiments of the piece one bit.


yvyvWe fought a war to get this country going then gave every land owning white male above the age of twenty-one the right to vote. A little more than four score years later, we fought a war with ourselves that cleared the way for non-whites to vote. Several decades of loud, disruptive, and sometimes dangerous behavior brought the granting of that same right to non-males a half-century later and another half century saw the voting age lowered to eighteen after a decade or so of protests and demonstrations.

dftv1Of course, putting something in a constitution does not automatically make it a practice throughout the land and I am painfully aware that resistance followed each of those changes and that efforts to make voting extremely difficult for “the other side” are ongoing today. I don’t want to ignore partisan obstructions and system flaws but neither do I want to get hung up on them. I meant my first paragraph to be a reminder that a hell of a lot of effort, property, and lives have gone into providing an opportunity to vote to a hell of a lot of people. Far too many of those opportunities go unused.

There are so many ways to slice and dice the numbers that producing a fair and accurate measure of voter turn out may not be possible. A Wikipedia article  on the subject includes a table of voter turnout in a number of countries for the period 1960-1995. The United States is at the bottom. The numbers are nearly twenty years old and open to interpretation so maybe we’re doing better now or maybe we shouldn’t have been dead last even then. But even if you want to think we are better than that, being anywhere near the bottom of the list and having something in the vicinity of 50% turnout is embarrassing… and frightening.

dftv2In the title I claim to not care how anyone votes. That’s not entirely true, of course. I have my favorite candidates and issues. I’ll be disappointed in anyone who votes differently than I do but not nearly as disappointed as I’ll be in anyone who doesn’t vote at all. I’m reminded of parents working on getting their kids to clean their plates with lines like, “There are hungry children in China who would love to have your green beans.” I’m not sure what the demand for leftover beans is in Beijing these days but I’m pretty sure some folks there would like to have our access to ballots and voting booths.

Ohio by the Numbers:
3, 10, 10,000, 40

ohion2y33 is the number assigned to the ballot issue on the legalization of marijuana in Ohio.

10 is the number of rich folk likely to get richer if it passes.

10,000 is is an educated guess at the number of both rich and poor folk who will be arrested next year if it doesn’t.

Some people who are basically in favor of legalizing marijuana have a problem with that 10 number. I don’t. Those that do seem to actually have two problems. One is the number itself and the other is that the owners of the 10 cultivation centers that Issue 3 would authorize are already known. A limit of some sort sure seems reasonable. Can anyone really believe that going from completely illegal to unregulated and unlimited is realistic? Maybe 10 isn’t the perfect number but I don’t know what is. I guess 15 would be better and 5 would be worse but 10 is what we are offered. Taking some of the edge off of that number is the fact that, unlike marijuana laws in Washington state, Issue 3 includes provision for home growers.

That the locations and owners of those 10 cultivation centers are defined as part of the ballot issue seems a little tougher to swallow. For some reason, making pot legal without simultaneously anointing financial beneficiaries of the move sounds nicer. However, unless you’re the state legislature, getting an issue on the ballot requires a lot of signatures and getting those signatures requires a lot of time and money. Sometimes the effort is paid for by a non-profit group of concerned people and sometimes it is paid for by people who will directly benefit. Ohio’s recent legalization of gambling in a few locations operated by a few companies is a good example of the latter approach. Much like the business interests who backed the casino campaigns, a group named Responsible Ohio financed the effort to get Issue 3 on the ballot and the campaign promoting it. I initially thought having the financial winners predetermined was a big negative but I now think differently. The Responsible Ohio investors have taken a risk and they stand to benefit. It’s all in the open and is actually rather refreshing in these days of massive no-bid government contracts and the all too frequent uncovering of kick backs and “pay to play” government-business relationships. If you’re even remotely OK with giving out-of-state companies license to operate the only four casinos in the state, you shouldn’t have a problem letting ten Ohio based companies turn a profit growing pot.

Those investors have given Ohio voters an opportunity we would not otherwise have. Yes, the nation’s attitude towards marijuana is changing and it seems likely to eventually become legal throughout the land. Even though there is no one with the required resources poised to get a “better” issue on the ballot next year or the year after that, it theoretically could happen. By defeating Issue 3 we could keep those money hungry opportunists from winning their bet. Doing that, however, could easily mean another ten or twenty thousand people being arrested for doing something we don’t really think is wrong. The 10,000 I tossed out as an “educated guess” at the beginning of this post comes from the well reasoned article  here. The article is certainly worth reading but to quickly tie the guess to facts I’ll share that the number of arrests for possession of marijuana was 11,988 in 2012 (the most recent year available). The rate may have gone down but 10,000 is in the ballpark. Somebody is going to make money from the legalization of marijuana. The best case imaginable is that some angel comes along and gets a perfect legalization issue, which somehow assures that only good guys benefit, on the ballot in 2016 so that the current situation lasts just one more year. Putting 10,000 people in jail to keep 10 rich guys from getting richer seems neither kind nor wise.

I mentioned that getting issues on the ballot requires a lot of signatures “unless you’re the state legislature”. That’s a reference to Issue 2 which was added to the ballot by the legislature. I at first thought this might be a good thing as it was presented as disallowing monopolies. It quickly became clear, however, that it is really aimed directly at Issue 3 and I can’t see any good in it at all. Ten independent companies are hardly a monopoly and any attempts to indulge in monopolistic practices can be dealt with via already existing laws. If 2 passes and 3 fails, things stay the same and cops keep arresting people. Same thing, obviously, if they both fail. If both pass, at a minimum things will get hung up in court for some time (and probably make some lawyers richer) and a common opinion is that the passage of 2 would negate the passage of 3. The only clear way to stop at least some of the anti-marijuana insanity is to vote “No on 2. Yes on 3”. To do otherwise is a near perfect example of allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

That last number, 40, has nothing to do with marijuana, monopolies, rich folks, poor folks, or cops. 40% is the average voter turnout in the past 10 off-year elections. That sucks no matter what you’re smoking. The only way to guarantee that your vote doesn’t matter is to not use it.

Naissance All Over Again

I think I attended the very first Ohio Renaissance Festival in 1990 though it’s possible that my first visit was in ’91 during the festival’s second season. It was great fun regardless of when it happened. I visited Willy Nilly-on-the-Wash, the fictional home of the festival, a few more times during the next decade then I stopped. I have no idea why. I was never a regular. I never went more than once a year and doubt I ever went two years in a row. Every two or three years seemed about right until it somehow dropped completely off my schedule. I’m sure I haven’t been there since at least 1999 which means that yesterday was the first time in the twenty-first century that I visited the sixteenth century. It’s changed.

I heard something on the radio about the festival just before it opened this year and decided I really should check it out. It runs for eight consecutive weekends with each week having a theme. There is a Pirates Weekend, a a Barbarian Invasion Weekend, and other fun sounding themes including OktoBEERfest!. This was the only weekend I had free. It’s Romance Weekend. By buying my ticket online I saved $1.14 (20.81 vs. 21.95). I wondered whether it was worth it but once the car was parked it became clear that I had done the right thing. My print-at-home ticket let me go right through the entrance on the right instead of standing in one of the lines on the left.

orf_06orf_05orf_04People in period dress (more or less) are everywhere and it’s not always easy to tell if they are officially part of the show or just highly motivated patrons. I’m only half sure the lady shopping for new cutlery is an amateur and even less certain about the others. I’ve never been actually confronted about photographing someone but I have had a few hard looks. It the look comes before I’ve fired the shutter, the shutter remains un-fired. At this sort of event, the exact opposite is more likely. When I took the second picture, I was actually targeting that magnificent beard but the lovely lady beside it noticed me and made sure I got her best side.

orf_07orf_08orf_09Thrill rides are powered by gravity or muscle. There are, of course, weight limit and “you must be this tall” signs but those aren’t the only restrictions.

orf_12orf_11orf_10Music is plentiful and good. There is even a genuine honest to goodness hurdy gurdy.

orf_13orf_14orf_15Actually, entertainment of all sorts is plentiful. One of the perennial favorites is the Theater in the Ground (a.k.a. Mudde Show). I caught a a performance of Dante’s Inferno and yes he does. They somehow talked a lovely lass from the audience into playing the role of Beatrice and much to my amazement kept her quite clean. The narrator didn’t fare so well. I lingered behind to get a picture of the bare stage.

orf_17orf_16Knights on horseback are every bit as popular as men in mud. There are full-tilt jousts several times each day and before each joust the knights demonstrate some of the skill involved by charging past their squires and plucking rings from their fingers. The lances used are considerably smaller and lighter than the ones they will use in the actual joust.

orf_18orf_19orf_20Although I was quite happy to get it, my seat for the joust wasn’t the best. It was easy enough for me to look past the array of lances but that might be a little tougher in the pictures. In the first picture they are just about to meet. In the second and third thay have just met and some fairly dramatic things are happening. I suppose most folks would simply post some video from their smart phones but I’m a bit more old fashioned and have created a couple of triptychs. One begins with that second photo in which the lance of the knight on the white horse has just snapped. The second begins with the third photo where the knight on the black horse is about to lose his lance.

orf_23orf_22orf_21Though bigger and better than when I last saw them, the joust and mud theater have been part of the festival since its beginning. The human chess match was new to me. I didn’t really follow things closely or understand all the rules but it is obvious that captured pieces do not just leave the board/field willingly. Note Elizabeth Regina watching the game in that third photo. The queen’s presense is often felt throughout the festival. I had encountered her shortly after entering and snapped a few pictures of her and her entourage. She spotted me and paused as she passed. There is an “official” photo of the queen that appears on the festival website and in brochures. I borrowed it to pair with mine.

orf_24This is, as I said, Romance Weekend so I’ll end with this touching image of two smitten youths, with odd curly things on their heads, sharing a scarf.

On the Road

mbp_01In addition to a film festival, visiting ships, a new mile marker, and the country’s biggest Octoberfest (which I’ve yet to attend this year), this week included a parade in the nearby city of Mason as part of its bicentennial celebration. I managed to see the entire parade but it wasn’t all that easy. There is a long walk as well as a long story behind the picture at right.

By the time I started for Mason following the pancake breakfast at the condo clubhouse, the parade route had long been blocked off. I thought I might be able to drive closer to the parade start than to its end so that’s where I headed. My thinking was correct and I parked within half a mile of the point of beginning. It was almost close enough. The parade started promptly at 10:00 when I was still a couple of blocks away. I immediately went into high-speed pursuit mode (i.e., a brisk walk with a few cut corners) but only started closing in on the lead entry as the parade neared its point of ending.

mbp_02Of course that lead entry carried the parade’s Grand Marshal to whose identity I had not a clue and neither, as far as I can tell, does the internet. The distance from my parked car to the parade end point was about a mile with the “high-speed” parade route portion accounting for about two-thirds of that. A nice, though unplanned, workout.

mbp_04mbp_03The Mason High School Marching Band was not far behind. They quite reasonably had a two song repertoire for the parade and it had cycled several times during my pursuit and overtaking. One song I can’t remember and one song I can’t forget. For the second consecutive Saturday, I got to hear Hang on Sloopy live.

mbp_07mbp_08mbp_09mbp_10In the interest of time, I’m going to forego any pretense of posting a representative set of photos. Instead, here, without explanation or justification, are a few I just like.

mbp_11When your city is ten or twenty times your age, you can jump — repeatedly — for joy at the birthday party. I’m sure they could have caught up with the Grand Marshal before the second verse of Sloopy.

On the Roadside

onrm01This is the elsewhere I was referring to when mentioning that I couldn’t be On the Waterfront Wednesday. The Ohio National Road Association unveiled three new interpretive panels this week but this it the only one of the events I was able to attend. That was lucky in one sense as both an interpretive panel and a new mile marker were unveiled in Reynoldsburg on Wednesday. By the time the speeches began, the crowd had grown to about twice the size of the group in the photo.

onrm02That’s Reynoldsburg-Truro Historical Society Vice President Dick Barrett speaking in the photo at left. Mike Peppe, on Dick’s right, and Dean Ringle, on his left, had already delivered short speeches as had Reynoldburg Mayor Brad McCloud. Mike is Chairman of the Ohio National Road Association Signage Committee and Dean heads up the ONRA’s Mile Marker Project. Dean is also a former president of the ONRA.

onrm04onrm03Mayor McCloud assisted Dean in lifting the cover from the new mile marker then helped Mike unwrap the new panel. This is the sixth of ten new mile markers being installed where the originals are missing or too much deteriorated to be repaired. The ONRA’s website lists twenty-five interpretive panels but the most recently listed is over a year old. I believe Mike stated this was the sixty-third.

onrm05onrm2014The original National Road mile markers in Ohio were made of sandstone, limestone, or even an early form of concrete. The new ones are white granite. The new markers duplicate the originals in terms of size, shape, and the information on their face. To distinguish the new from the old, the new markers have the year 2014 carved low on their backs.

onrm272onrm271onrm267While chatting with Dean after the unveiling, I realized that it would be possible to pass all of the other five granite markers without going terribly out of my way as I drove home. I set out to do just that but got off to a horrible start. The first I would pass was also the first installed. Mile marker 260 had been put in place in December. I already knew that and had halfheartedly looked for it on a previous visit to Columbus. I had not found it but wasn’t very confident that I was looking in the right place so wasn’t at all concerned. This time I was pretty sure I was looking in the right place but still did not see it. I even, despite the rush hour traffic, made two passes. The next one, 264, I spotted but got no photograph. Now the traffic convinced me save a retry for another day. As you can see, I had better luck with the remaining three. In reality, it probably wasn’t luck at all but the fact that reduced traffic allowed me to actually look.

A Pretty Fair Day

osf01The day in the title was Friday and the fair was the Ohio State Fair in Columbus.The day was, just as the title claims, quite pretty and so, in its own way, was the fair. I can’t really recall the last time I was here but it’s been a long time. Not years but decades. More than two. Less than five. Why that is, I can’t say. I attend the Great Darke County Fair every year or two and I’ve frequently thought about attending the state fair but never got around to doing it. My Friday visit was rather spontaneous. I was aware that the fair was in session but had no plans to attend until I woke up and realized just how wonderful the day’s weather was going to be. It did not take me long to decide that it would be the perfect day to end my long absence.

osf02osf03osf04I parked next to the fairgrounds at the Ohio History Center. For the most part, its lots become paid parking for fair goers but is still free to members. $5 for everybody else. That put my entry to the fair right at the north end of the double wide midway.

osf07osf06osf05The midway is mostly rides and games of “skill” but there are also plenty of intriguing foods to be tasted and exotic sights to be seen.

osf08osf09osf10The first livestock building I entered was the horse stable. It was empty. However, speakers in the area were broadcasting reports of some sort of horse competition which I learned was taking place in a nearby arena. The event was for draft horses. Each two horse team was driven through a series of maneuvers that included measured stops at points where bales of straw were loaded or unloaded. The fellow in the third picture was the eventual winner.

osf13osf12osf11I snapped some candid shots in the dairy cattle barn but some of the gals were getting professional photos taken in an onsite studio.

osf14osf15A cow made of butter first appeared at the Ohio State Fair in 1903. A calf was added in the 1920s and the pair became fair regulars. Since the 1960s, they’ve been joined by a variety of “guest stars” with Ohio connections. This year the Ohio State University’s football team, winners of the first ever national championship playoffs, gets the honor. There’s coach Meyer, the championship trophy, and Brutus Buckeye, the team’s mascot.

osf18osf17osf16I reached the beef cattle area in time to see some of the junior competition. The second picture shows a judge talking to an exhibitor. A judge spoke personally and at some length with every one of these kids, who I believe the announcer said were in their early teens. Whirling rides, flashing lights, and fast talking barkers are sure-fire impression makers and slithering ladies and deep-fried silliness are also important parts of what makes the experience memorable. But, with the possible exception of the guy and his horses a few panels back, nothing says “fair” to me louder than these three photos.

Backyard History

gade01That’s George Ade’s backyard in the picture at right. Ade was a columnist, author, and playwright who was quite popular and successful as the nineteenth century wound down and the twentieth took its place. Prior to a few weeks ago, I didn’t know even that much about him. In fact, if I had ever heard his name before, I had forgotten it. I became aware of George Ade and his Indiana backyard while learning about my own “backyard”.

gade02gade03The source of my learning was and is a series of videos from History in Your Own Backyard which I’ll have more on once I’m explained the Ade connection. Each video ends with the catch phrase “Travel slowly, stop often” which, along with a longer quote that appears on screen to start each video, is attributed to George Ade. The quotes made me want to learn more about the man and at some point in my reading I realized I would be passing near his home on an imminent road trip. I did that last week and got these pictures of both the back and front yards of the place he called Hazelden Farm.

gade04Hazelden Farm is just outside of Brook, Indiana. Ade, who died in 1944, is buried a few miles south of there in Fairlawn Cemetery near Kentland. His writing has been compared to Mark Twain’s and the two humorists apparently knew each other and are said to have admired each other’s work. That, and the “Travel slowly, stop often” quote, is enough to generate some serious interest from me. So far, I’ve read just a little of Ade’s Fables in Slang but I will certainly be reading more. One place to learn more about George Ade is here.

hiyobhomeNow I’m ready to talk about History in Your Own Backyard. The project is the brainchild of Scenic Road Rallies owner Satolli Glassmeyer. It’s a rather simple concept. Each video tells the story of one historic structure in the tri-state (Indiana-Ohio-Kentucky) area. They serve to preserve the story and make it available through the project’s website and YouTube channel. That lets people like me learn about easily overlooked history that really is in our own backyards.

But the videos have an additional purpose and it shows in how they are made. The topics are well researched. The recording and editing are top notch and professional looking. The on screen interviewers and commentators are not quite so polished. They are amateurs who live in the area. Some are high school students getting a taste of and a little experience in working in front of a camera. More importantly, however, they gain a sense of ownership over both the production and its subject. Some of their friends and family probably do too. That is intentional and valuable.

Don’t get me wrong. These are not awkward camera shy klutzes stumbling over every word. They simply lack the poise and polish that experience brings. There could even be a future Barbara Walters or Larry King among them but, if so, they have a ways to go. Their sincerity, however, is never in doubt and that, along with some real enthusiasm, easily makes up for a little missing polish..

The project got started a little more than a year ago and the YouTube channel currently lists over a hundred videos. Some are of active businesses in historic building that include interviews with current owners. Others might have only a commentator in an empty building or on a deserted bridge. Some even use old photographs with Ken Burns style voice-over. The following promotional video, which looks to gain new viewers, participants, and subjects, explains things better than I can.

You don’t have to live in my neighborhood to enjoy the History in Your Own Backyard videos. A general interest in history and preservation will suffice. But, if you do live in the neighborhood, they will probably tell you something you didn’t know or had forgotten and almost certainly give you some ideas for that next drive around your “backyard”.

Trip Peek #29
Trip #94
Buzzards with Syrup

pv74This picture is from my 2011 Buzzards with Syrup trip. The name comes from combining a trip to see the buzzards return to Hinckley, Ohio, with the Maple Madness Drive-It-Yourself Tour to visit several producers of syrup and other maple based products. The buzzards officially return on March 15, the Maple Madness Tour is a weekend thing which I tackled on Saturday the 19th, and the Buzzard Day Festival took place the next day on Sunday. That left the days in between to visit Center of the World, a couple museums, and the shore of Lake Erie  plus celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. The picture is from the festival when experts from the Medina Raptor center were present to show and talk about the birds.


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.

Trip Peek #26
Trip #62
Original OH LH

pv42This picture is from my 2008 Original OH LH trip to attend the Ohio Lincoln Highway League annual meeting in Galion. The route initially announced by the Lincoln Highway Association, now known as the Proclamation Route, included the cities of Kenton and Marion. When a revised route was announced a few weeks later, the route was moved to the north and these cities dropped. I decided to take a look at Ohio’s part of the Proclamation Route on this drive which is how I ended up in Kenton where this Gene Autry Mural is located. The drive continued through Marion and other Proclamation Route towns. The manufacture of Gene Autry toy pistols is a big part of Kenton’s past and that’s why the big mural is there and why there used to be an annual Gene Autry Days festival. As I prepared this post, I learned that the 2013 festival was the last.


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.

WACO Homecoming

waco01Troy, Ohio, was once home to the most successful airplane manufacturer in the world. That manufacturer, WACO Aircraft Company, ceased production in 1947 but the city keeps the memories alive with Historic WACO Field at the south edge of town. A museum, learning center, and runway see action all year long but the annual fly-in brings in quite a bit of extra action, particularly for the runway. I attended this year’s fly-in on Saturday, the middle of its three day run.

waco02waco03waco04The dozen or so WACOs parked on the ground made a colorful and impressive display. I have the feeling that there were more of the planes here on my first visit to the fly-in in 2006 but I can’t quantify that and a dozen WACOs is still a lot of WACOs.

waco06waco05There were plenty of “don’t touch” reminders but attendees were otherwise free to walk among the airplanes for up close viewing. Only after I got home and started to prepare this post did I realize that it is likely that not all of those gorgeous planes I admired were vintage. It had somehow escaped me that the WACO Aircraft Corporation of Battle Creek, Michigan, started building reproductions of the WACO YMF in 1986. The reproductions have the word “classic” in their logo so I should have been able to easily identify them if I’d only known to look. On the other hand, it was probably better not knowing and believing that all those great looking machines were older than me.

waco07waco08waco09A tremendous increase in museum space since I was last here means that several airplanes, including some that were displayed outside in 2006, are now displayed under cover. Maybe that contributed, just a bit, to my sense of fewer WACOs on the field.

waco12waco11waco10A big attraction is the availability, for a fee, of rides in the open planes. Passengers, two maximum, sit in front of the pilot. These pictures show a vintage (no “classic” in the logo) WACO taxiing from its spot among the other aircraft, gaining speed down the grass runway, then smoothly rising above the corn. My guess is that that’s a buddy and not a paying passenger in the front compartment.

waco13waco14waco15I’ll close with a 1993 WACO Classic YMF (I learned that later.) coming in with a pair of happy customers, seat backs in the upright position, sitting up front.