30 September 2008

Tyranny of the Urgent

A few weeks back our pastor made the suggestion we all read the little pamphlet book "Tyranny of the Urgent", and then supplied us all with them, which made me feel obligated to read it. Once I finally found time to read it, I decided to do what the author suggested in keeping track of every half-hour during the course of the day......the point being we lose track of the most valuable thing we have, our time.

So, knowing that you're all dying to know what Hoosier Reborn does with his time now that he's unemployed, here's the results based on a percentage of non-sleep hours....which incidentally averaged 7 hours of sleep a day.

Leading Youth Group & 20's class at our church: 12%
Messing around with my non-profit preservation interests: 14%
Actual paid work: 32%
TV (mostly on the couch with my wife): 7%
Time the whole family is doing something together: 10%
House work/painting: 9%
Time with God: 6%
Personal stuff, like shower, meals and work out: 10%
Emailing/blogging: 5%
Hanging with friends coffees/movies: 4%

What stood out to me first was the fact that my combined non-profit stuff almost equalled my for-profit work stuff. I do think that will go down as some projects are coming to a close. I guess I should consider myself blessed that I have that time to give and still pay the bills......I think, I better ask my wife if we're paying our bills.

The other thing that stood out to me was how much more a percentage of time everything consumed than my time with God.....but at least He ranked higher than my connection to friends either in person or via email. But I'm not so sure that's good either.

Any suggestions on how to find more time in my day.....maybe some things I should cut out or reduce in time spent? TV......maybe.

25 September 2008

corporate vs. personal responsibility.....the bail out

I'm furious. And you should be too. What is going on in our beloved democracy? Why is capitalism and the free market system heralded as the saviour of mankind, then so quickly subsidized when we realize a mess has been made of the financial markets?

Why is "corporate responsibility" derided by Republicans as hurting the free market, when the same tout "personal responsibility" when they want to neglect the poor? And can someone tell me why the heck it is MY responsibility to shore up shoddy credit and bad investment decisions by lending institutions who just wanted to turn a quick buck and then sell the "toxic paper" debt on to others with the same goal?

So, should I join the revolution and just not pay my mortgages? Here we are, practicing personal financial responsibility by prudent spending, doing without new cars and cable, and a lot of other luxuries many in our generation feel are rights/owed to them......and get them by going into debt accessing credit on inflated homes......really nice homes........and then the bottom falls out and my tax dollars, and my children and grandchildren have to clean up the mess? Where is the lending institution's personal responsibility? The borrower? Lehman Brothers?

This is corporate welfare we are being told must be paid out to these financial institutions with the threat of "total financial collapse" if we do not. This is in essence socialism.....a redistribution of wealth....$700 billion.....to guys who made some bad decisions, but want to keep their Lexuses. And for some reason, when we talk about helping the poor, the homeless, those without health care........Republicans want to throw out the "socialism" term. Unbelievable.

As scary as it may sound, I just wonder if we don't need a collapse. Our economy has been built on low-paying jobs and easy access to credit on inflated valued homes. Shoring it up is like putting duct tape over a burst pipe. I don't know that Democrats have the answers here, but it's clear the President does not. Ron Paul seems to make the most sense........and that to me is troubling enough.

Join me in "Ban the Bailout"

22 September 2008

things you've never seen before

Driving in Northwest Indiana led me past this soggy pumpkin patch. I had to do a double-take, because I've never seen pumpkins floating in a field before. Rivers were still running high, roads still closed.........it seems like it is going to take a long time for this part of the state to dry out.

I wonder if there is such a thing as "pumpkin bobbing".

names I would not choose

Now, be honest, haven't you heard some one's last name and thought, maybe even verbalized, "wow, glad I don't have their last name". I was driving in the Porter County area today and came across this sign........and I thought to myself, if I were a participant on the Wheel of Fortune and saw this arrangement of letters I would guess an "L" an "M" and buy an "O".....Vanna, can we see those letters? For some reason, I don't think Mr. Chi_d _ _ _ester would appreciate that, being that he's running for judge and all.

Other names of people I know that I'm glad I do not have: Stinke, Burpee, Swiney, Gross, Boner, Bottomley, Cockbain, Lush or Pueke.......and I'm only halfway through the phone book. There was a friend in college with the last name "Small". We made fun of him relentlessly....although I could see going through school with the name "Large" like another friend of mine, for obvious reasons.

I wish Judge Chidester the best....I guess. Better than his counterpart in river city. Have you noticed Mr. Palmers signs nearly ALL appear to be placed in the right-of-way...violating our laws? That doesn't seem to speak well of his ability to execute the law from the bench. Cae-sera-sera.

20 September 2008

the Jacoby Church

Unfortunately, many rural churches throughout Indiana are disappearing. A few posts ago I highlighted the Powers Church near Angola. This time we go to Marshall County to the Jacoby Church, northeast of Plymouth. The church was constructed in 1860. The following is information from a descendant of the founder, John Jacoby:

John Jacoby moved from Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania to Marion County, Ohio with his family in 1831 or 1832. He bought land in Marion County, on December 23, 1831. In 1847, he and his wife and children journeyed to Wisconsin by way of the water route from Huron, Ohio, and from there they went to Marshall County, Indiana. John bought a farm in Marshall County on November 17, 1847. He owned the entire Section 35 in Center Township. He was one of the founders of the St. John or Jacoby Reformed Church, and he deeded an acre of ground on which to erect the house of worship and its cemetery.

Prior to constructing the house of worship, the Jacobys needed a burial ground for members of the family who passed on. The cemetery dates about 12 years older than the church. In a letter between Daniel Jacoby (a brother) and Michael Jacoby (his son in Ohio) the need for a church is evident:

December 30, 1849

"Our spiritual affairs is not very good. We have not heard a sermon of our own church since Pence left here. It is true we have meeting here in Plymouth sometimes by the Methodist and sometimes by the Presbyterian but still it is not home for we like our own. I hope the time will soon come that we will be able to support a minister sufficient to preach the Gospel to us of our own church. I am not discouraged. I will serve my God while I live. Let others do as they will. For God is a prayer hearing and prayer answering. God hears and therefore I put my trust in him, and if we will never meet on earth I hope to meet you all in heaven where parting will be no more is the prayer of your most humble . . ."

Their prayers were answered by the construction of the single room timber frame building in 1860, being dedicated in 1861, on the corner of the John Jacoby farm. This was largely a German Reformed/Lutheran congregation. In about 1904 the church was updated with the addition of the front foyer and bell tower. The church operated in several generations of denominations/congregations including one associated with the Missionary Church. The building was closed for a period of about ten years before another group began meeting here for a few years during the 1960's while their building was constructed in Plymouth.

And then it sat vacant. A descendant of the family cared for the building, but it quickly fell into disrepair as the building approached the new millennium. Windows were broken out, a corner of the building had dropped by over a foot and gaping holes in the ceiling accelerated deterioration. Further complicating the matter was an ownership issue, while the township owned the cemetery, there was no clear title to the building.....creating difficulty in organizing efforts to save the 140+ year old building.

To say the church is a landmark in the community is an understatement, but the future seemed bleak.

Soon........the salvation of the church.

16 September 2008

a Hoosier and a Hurricane

Floyd. A rather unassuming, mild-mannered sort of name.

But Floyd caused us a great deal of problems on our first year anniversary trip to the East Coast. My wife and I had a rather short, frugal honeymoon, so we decided to take an extended trip to the East Coast in 1999, to celebrate our first year of marriage. It was also the first real test of spending a lot of time in the car together, wife navigating while I drove......despite a long, silent car ride from about the Adirondacks into Vermont, after missing a turn or two.......we're still together, almost 9 years later.

Anyway, still living on love, we decided to tent camp during our stay at Acadia National Park, off the coast of Maine. We arrived at the campground and quickly realized there were very few other campers......due to Hurricane Floyd changing course and working its way up the coast. We figured, aw, we can make it through the night. The winds howled and the rains came. And this was just the precursor to the main storm, yet to run ashore. So, the second night, we rented one of the campground's little log cabins, about 8' x 10', and hunkered down. And it was crazy. I think most disappointing was the fact that the wind kept blowing out my matches while I tried to light the grill on the porch.

We had planned to head down to Boston and back to Indiana the next two days. But Floyd was still churning off the coast of Massachusetts and we thought it would be better to go back the way we came, inland.....spending the night at Lake Placid, New York. Wouldn't you know that the hurricane decided to go inland and flooded roads and bridges throughout Vermont and into New York and most areas were without power. The Bar Harbor/Acadia area is impressive and the ocean was furious from the approaching storm. Vermont was a place you could just settle into nice and easy.....which is why we had planned to return there this year. I think we're staying in state....to many hurricanes. BTW......South Bend got like 11 inches of rain over the weekend, mostly due to Ike. Holy Cow! Our basement, by the way......DRY!

13 September 2008

awwwhhh.....aren't they cute?


After terrorizing the family for the last few days, and visitors to our home, I decided I needed to take a tough stand against Sammie, Eddie & Oliver......I found them lounging together in a heap when the sun came out today. Let's just say Sammie and Eddie won't be a problem anymore. Oliver, the tricky one that he is, got away for now. We're developing quite a little pet cemetery along the north side of our fence. And don't send me animal activist hate mail, I tried unsuccessfully for a relocation program. There are 3 in this photo...count the heads.
Ah if only party bosses were so easily removed!

This afternoon it was great fun watching our little ones play around the bushes by the back step. I'm not sure where their momma was, but watching them slither in and out of the ground brought a smile to my face as I called the kids over to watch the three baby snakes play by our back doorstep. How many snakes in a clutch, or nest, or ??? Evidently now I know why that big, fat garter snake was so angry with me when I tried to chase it away.

I left a note on the door for my lovely wife, who is currently away, to be careful not to step on our youngins' when she gets home. If it isn't moles, who evidently figured out how to stay away from the trap, it's bats, and if not bats, it's snakes. A friend of my wife's said it's because of the nature center we built in our back room for the kids........."if you build it, they will come" she says. Drats!

12 September 2008

Historic Bridges of Plymouth

A few years back my involvement in some downtown redevelopment work in Plymouth led me to an interesting discovery. Plymouth has several historic bridges....kinda like Madison County. While you might not think of Plymouth as a river town, the Yellow River, or "Wythougan" in Native American tongue-meaning "yellow waters", meanders through the little city of 10,000.

It wasn't until I went on a canoe trip down the Yellow that I truly realized the coolness of the concrete arched bridges........so here we go......pretend you're on a float trip, feet hanging over the side.......down the river and enjoy.
The first bridge (from north to south, with the flow) is the Jefferson Street/Lincoln Highway Bridge. The double span, filled concrete arched bridge was constructed in 1927 once the final route was chosen for the new Lincoln Highway alignment through Marshall County/Plymouth. While renovations in the 1980's widened the deck and changed the handrails to standard highway design, the historic superstructure is still in place and is begging for restoration.

The next bridge is the Garro Street Bridge. Constructed about 1920, it also is a double span, filled concrete arched bridge but is unusual because of its angle across the river. The original concrete railings still exist on this bridge, as no renovation work was ever made, except to remove some remarkable metal light fixtures at the four corners. I believe refurbishment is in the near future....let's hope the lights come back.

The third bridge is the National Register listed LaPorte Street Footbridge. Constructed in 1898 and fabricated by the Rochester (Indiana) Bridge Company, this bridge is a metal cantilever structure with piers at the banks. Only one other bridge like this exists in the state, in Winamac. I also happened to have proposed to my wife on this bridge.......

Luten Bridge, ca. 1918

Luten Bridge, prior to restoration

The fourth bridge was constructed between 1916-1917 and has the distinction of being a Daniel Luten concrete bridge. Luten was an engineering professor in Indiana who patented his concrete bridge designs that quickly made him famous across the country. The Luten Bridge is the Michigan Street bridge and was constructed in place of the early metal Michigan Road bridge, probably in keeping with the construction of the Yellowstone Trail following the alignment and bringing additional vehicular traffic across the bridge. This bridge was renovated in the 1970's. widening the deck and removing the historic handrails. This year the bridge was restored with handrails sympathetic to the original design being installed, along with the new addition of light fixtures.

The fifth bridge to cross the Yellow River is the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge produced by the American Bridge Company of New York in 1902. This may be my favorite. The massive steel bridge is one of the earliest Pratt pony style truss designed bridges in Indiana. It is set on massive limestone abutments and is a marvel to walk under along the bank of the river.

Another noteworthy bridge is the Pennsylvania Railroad/Michigan Street viaduct constructed about 1900. This is one of the more identifiable Plymouth landmarks. The steel pony plate girder truss style bridge crosses Michigan Street just south of the Yellow River and rests on massive limestone abutments and center pier. A train once derailed at this location sending rail cars over the north side of the rail to the street below. What would become known as the Pennsylvania Railroad was constructed through Plymouth in 1856. Two other 1900 pony plate girder truss bridges are also located in Plymouth along this rail line. So if you're keeping track-that's 8 historic bridges....not bad for a little town.

08 September 2008

when we realize it's been a long time

You know how it is when you've rolled back into town after a long trip.....or maybe visiting family or friends in a community you've not set foot in for years? Or maybe it's that realization that much time has passed when you've looked into the face of an old friend you haven't seen in a long time.

For me, recently, it was the strange feeling of walking into a part of grandad's pasture that I hadn't been in for a long time.....and there were trees where there had been pasture. And I remember a few of those little saplings getting started about the time gramps quit farming. But then, after a little stroll into this secluded corner I realized, it really had been a long time.

and the rains came down, as the floods went up...

I had to swallow hard when I received the quote to do a little drainage work around the house. But, wanting to prevent further deterioration around the south side of our 150 year old nightmare with "character" I gave the go-ahead. Foundation work to follow.

We now have a small swale.....or moat.......diverting rain water away from the foundation and to the back yard, roughly in the vicinity of the swing set. And of course, our sump pump has been disconnected from the city sewer.....which is good considering it's a violation. And of course, as the swale was cut, a retaining wall would be required.......and, of course, regardless of disconnecting the sump pump from the sewer.....some investigation revealed a plugged sewer line. I pull the toilet off for auguring tomorrow.

I've been cursed with plumbing problems since my first place in town, a downtown studio apartment. The toilet constantly trickled water.......when I told the landlord, he told me I should fix it, because it built character. To which I refused since I was moving out. So, it's been toilet after toilet and flooded basements. One funny toilet story: we had a Latino fella living in our rental at one time. He came over late one night with quite an emergency....it seemed his front bridge fell out of his mouth and into the toilet and he flushed before he realized what had happened. He did all this with hand motions because he knew no English. He wanted me to try to get it back.....I suggested he wouldn't want the bridge back even if I could get them. I guess digging through sewage would have built character. Maybe more character than digging a moat, I'm sure. They also broke the toilet bowl and fixed it with duct tape. That didn't work so well.

05 September 2008

McCain: "fight, fight, fight!"

OK, I'm going to give equal billing here to the RNConvention. And I'm going to attempt to be unbiased. It's so weird to say that.......given that I am a republican, I think, or at least I was, I think. I don't know anymore.

I hadn't planned to watch McCain's speech last night. I've been struggling with a cold or allergies or something lately.....mostly struggling with health insurance companies who are wearing me down, hence my cold. At any rate, I woke up on the couch in time to watch the news, who then cut-away to McCain's speech. And I'm glad I watched it. But I have to say, it was a little odd, maybe not the speech so much as watching the frenzied crowd's reaction to it.

First of all, I noticed it was very white. Oh sure, there was the token minority thrown in, but it seemed very starched, pressed and white. Even the youth looked too clean. Does this represent America, today? Should it?

I know R's often say that Obama is all hype and that his crowds respond to only that, but I'm trying to understand how one could watch Obama's speech in its entirety and McCain's speech and not realize it was the R's who were worked into a frenzy over hype. Seriously. Toward the end, when McCain was saying we needed to fight, fight, fight, fight for America, fight for our kids, fight....etc., did you see the woman nearly entranced, swooned by his speech like an old time revival say "yes! yes! yes!" as she waved her sign in a steely grip? McCain said Americans are tired of D's & R's yelling at each other, well, sir, Americans are tired of the "fighting"....which is exactly how the crowd assembled in Minnesota interpreted your speech.

I wish that McCain the maverick would return. He is who I voted for 8 years ago over Bush. But he has changed his position to align the right. I can't trust that he is going to stand up to lobbyists when he has changed his position on drilling due to big oil bankrolling his campaign. Can we really trust anyone anymore?

There was no substance. Period. Except to say that he would begin off-shore drilling immediately. He threw a bone to the christian conservatives by saying he believed in a "culture of life".........what kind of non-committal statement is that to the pro-lifers? Obama at least admitted we don't all see eye to eye and that common ground must be found. And McCain continued the rhetoric of bad D's raising taxes, creating bigger government, etc.

It is as though you can say anything anymore and so long as you have enough money to throw at that message, a misled electorate will put you in office. It happened in river city's mayor's race, it will likely happen in the governor's race this fall due to the extraordinary claims by Mitch's camp, and it's a toss-up for the presidency. And to conclude this by saying "as if it matters" is probably too cynical.......but, it is what it is and there is very little we can do about it, despite the call by the Senator to create change in our communities by seeking public office. You have to fit the R or D mold......so then, it really isn't about change at all, is it?

04 September 2008

if I could be that guy

If I could be that guy in the big blueberry suit, I would strut myself into the festival mob, whistling some kind of crazed tune-jerk the cigarettes out of people's hands by the covered bridge and stomp on them with my giant foot. If I could be that guy I'd push my way to the front of the line on every ride, and at every food booth, particularly the blueberry ice cream booth-to wit I would say "don't you know who I am? why, I'm the mascot of the insanity"

If I could be that guy in the big blueberry suit, I would wreck havoc by bumping into marathon runners I did not like with my big stuffed body and then in fanciful mascot manner, throw my over sized hand over my mouth as if to say....."did I do that?"

If I could be that guy, I would carry a buzzer in the palm of my hand that would give a slight shock to people I'd greet. And put a giant plastic bag full of blueberry jelly between my thighs so that I could squeeze them together and squirt blueberry out my backside when I got excited.

If only they would let me be that guy in the blueberry suit......I would prance around during the parade pants dropping politicians, kicking their hynies if I didn't like them and picking fights with teenagers who taunted me along the way.

Ah, if only they would let me be that guy I'd go into Papa John's and demand free pizza, then to a city council meeting and demand to be treated equally-that all doorways and toilets accommodate my plumpness. And if they refused I'd pile drive the mayor until he relented and said "blueberry king, you rule!"

Alas, I don't think they'll ever let me be that guy. Happy Blueberry.

03 September 2008

waning summer update from the field

Trying to make an escape from blueberry hell.....I headed to my folks for a quiet dinner in the country Saturday night topped off by a stroll through the "field"......dad's eco-experiment. Here's a few pictures from the field.....and pond.....and "circle of trees".

02 September 2008

Barney Smith, or Smith-Barney

Many people have been asking me if I watched the Democratic National Convention, what I thought of Obama's speech, what I think of McCain's VP choice and whether or not I believe Obama to be the antichrist. So, here's my political rundown.....as if you care what I, the average middle-class, middle-aged unemployed white guy father of two, cynical disenfranchised christian voter, thinks.

Honestly, I don't remember much about Obama's speech. It was for-par for him, the only thing I remember was his call for finding common ground on issues of abortion and gay rights. I'm not sure why that stuck out to me, other than these are really the core issues creating a "christian" republican party. He delivers an excellent speech, and seems genuine in what he says. This he has all over McCain......but we shall see.

Regarding famous moments of the DNConvention, leave it to a Hoosier to steal the show. And not just any Hoosier-not Roemer or Bayh, but, yes, Barney Smith. And he was the epitome of Hoosier. In case you missed it-Barney, a now unemployed factory worker in Marion, Indiana, got his 10 minutes of fame by addressing the crowd. It seemed like he struggled through his speech, evidently proof of Indiana's sliding position in education, to get out the message that he had lost his job to cheap Chinese labor (thanks WalMart). Proof of an economic system in shambles, much to the chagrin of Bush and his former budget advisor........Mitch Daniels. Yes, I meant to say "system" because I believe our poor economic situation is not really a result of people having less money to spend, but rather the effects of a shabbily built economy on service jobs and corporate greed.........but that's a story for another time. So, back to Barney Smith....he concludes his speech by saying America needs a president more interested in Barney Smith than Smith-Barney. Sweet! Barney for President!

The DNConvention quickly took a back seat to McCain's choice for VP. Governor Palin, a young woman from Alaska, seems to fit the bill in terms of strategy for the McCain ticket......but she certainly doesn't bring a great deal of experience or confidence to the ticket. She seems like a smart woman, don't get me wrong.....but ready to be president? Much less so than the critics of Obama want you to believe about him. The selection was strategy, nothing more than that. But I don't believe it will really result in a heavy move of voters to the republican ticket. At best, it will shore up the pro-life vote among women for the party. I didn't see a strong migration to the D camp in that anyway.

Now, some of you know exactly what I'm talking about when I referred to Obama being thought to be the anti-christ. My own mother had this conversation with my wife, and I've heard it mentioned in other circles as well. When I first heard it, I just rolled my eyes. First of all, these people promoting this kind of thought are nothing more than fear mongers, trying to instill a sort of gravity to this election as to call to arms the right wing in Christ (wow, that's an interesting and loaded term, I'll have to dissect that sometime). Should we be so bold as to think that the anti-christ is going to come out of america......I have some thoughts. The Bible says that he will deceive many, leaving the faith. Well, many fundamentalists already believe the Democratic party IS the devil, so I doubt the anti-christ will be a Democrat. More likely, I believe he'll be a republican........one who will swoon christians into believing that through him morality will be restored to our government and to our land. Then, christians will march in droves saying "vote for this guy" televangelists will tell their followers to "vote for this guy" and from pulpits, pastors will say "vote for this guy". And once this guy wins, we would see him re neg on his promises of ethics and begin to turn over the control of our country to "the beast", which, if I understand scripture correctly......will be all about controlling the financial markets....even more of a reason to believe he could be a republican!

But, two good things should this silly idea of Obama being the anti-christ be true. 1) fundamentalists no longer have to fear catholics! and 2) even so, come lord Jesus.