Wednesday, December 24, 2008

FISHES OF OHIO'S HOCKING HILLS REGION

People who are familiar with Southern Ohio’s Hocking Hills are quick to take notice to the many stunning rock formations found in the hollows and gorges in the region, such as Old Man’s Cave and Ash Cave. No less noticed, is the abundance of water spilling over rocks forming the many pools and streams which slice through the many gorges. In addition to the many waterways and natural works of rock art sculpted by nature over long periods of time, this region holds many best kept secrets of its diverse animal and plant life.

One such fascinating secret lies beneath the surface of the many streams you are likely to hike near during your visit. There are many small fishes schooling about lazily. Have you ever noticed what kind of fishes they are?

This is a general introduction guide to the fishes of the Hocking Hills region, especially focusing on some of the more abundant, yet lesser known species of the waterways. Interestingly enough, North America fosters the most diverse temperate fish fauna in the world, and the Hocking Hills are an ample part of this diversity!

The following observation of the fishes of the Hocking Hills is not from an angling perspective, but rather what a “fish watching” perspective, in just the same way bird and butterfly enthusiasts explore their creatures of affection!

Let’s begin with the DARTERS

Darters are a family of fish that include the familiar perches and walleyes. They could be represented as “underwater hummingbirds” because of their size, quickness and colors. They are small, colorful or intricately patterned fish, seldom exceeding 5 inches in length. They require clean, clear running streams for their optimum survival. They are elongate fish, with a physique designed perfectly for remaining stable in swift moving water on stream bottoms. In the Hocking Hills they feed on small insect larvae, worms, crustaceans and other small organisms. Darters swim along the bottom of streams in a quick “darting” fashion, hence the name “darters.”


Hocking Hills, of course, is a haven for many kinds of darters, including the endangered eastern sand darter. Other darters finding home here are the rainbow darter, fantail darter, Johnny darter, banded darter, greenside darter, verigate darter and more. It may be surprising that one of the world’s most colorful fishes makes Hocking Hills its home! If you ever happen to be a part of one of the park naturalist’s stream life observation programs, be sure to look closely at the rainbow darter as the naturalist holds the fish up into the sunlight light for viewing purposes in the viewing container.

Next up, the MINNOW family.

There are approximately 231 species of minnows in North America., so the next time you gaze down into a stream while crossing a trail bridge try to identify which kinds of minnows you’re spotting. Even the most camouflaged or mundane colored minnow seems to come alive with the color and shine of sparkling jewels during spawning season when stream waters warm up a bit (approximately late March to late May). Watching a group of spawning minnows can be a sight to behold! You know something unique and complex is happening. Such a scene is similar in appearance to a flock of birds all darting about in tight formation in every direction.

Some minnow species, such as redside dace are indicators of higher water quality, while others, like the creek chub are more tolerant to the erosion and sedimentation that can occur in the gorges where trails are heavily hiked or after heavy rains. By the way, just a small tip for leaving a light footprint on aquatic environments: It is best to not hike too close to stream banks, because trampling plants along erosion sensitive banks eventually kills the plants, and ultimately the root structures stretching into sandbanks.

Southern red belly dace are another type of small minnow which are found in the Hocking Hills headwater streams and in clean, clear, quiet pools, such as those at Ash Cave. During spawning season, southern reds are surely to capture your attention easily, as they are brilliantly colored with a bright “stop sign red” underbody, yellowish- green fins and dark black stripes running the length of the body from near the head to tail.

The central stoneroller is colorful and easily recognized in the Spring. It sweeps clean the bottom of streams by eating excess algae off of rocks, as well as a host of other small organisms. This is a fish that keeps streams clean without anyone paying any extra taxes!

Among many other types of minnows likely to inhabit Hocking Hills streams, are blacknose dace, sand shiners, bluntnose minnow, horny head chub, common shiners, silver jaw minnows, rosefin shiner, creek chub, mud minnows, northern hog sucker, white sucker, and trout perch. Some of the fishes names are as interesting as their physical features! You can identify most of these native fishes in the PETERSON’S FIELD GUIDE TO NORTH AMERICAN FISHES

NATURE’S SIDESHOW!


Now let’s have some fun visiting nature’s fun house side-show in exploring the many ODDITIES OF THE STREAMS……. Hurry hurry, step right up…right here you see the scary looking …mottled sculpin….The sculpin is a small but voracious eater, which like darters, are bottom dwelling fish, never turning away at the chance to lunge up and swallow an unsuspecting baby minnow! They have larger mouths than most small fishes so this is quite easy for this little guy. Against the stream bottom, the sculpin’s camouflage can fool even the sharpest eye. The easiest way to describe the sculpin is that it has the body of a darter, with the head of a toad, or even resembling a bull dog. This description may sound silly, but when you actually see the fish, this description will make sense!

Brook Lamprey is another strange fish. Lamprey are one of the native fishes that have been swimming around in fresh waters before the dinosaurs, and have changed little in millions of years. Resembling eels, an interesting role lamprey play in the underwater environment is preying off of sick and dying fishes. By doing this, the lamprey help to keep the overall fish population strong and healthy, by "removing" those sick fish which may spread disease to others! They literally attach themselves to the weaker fish with their jawless and sucker-like mouth and suck fluids from their prey, eventually killing them! I guess you can call them the "Draculas" of the creek!

The lamprey is different from all fish because it is actually jawless and as mentioned earlier, most notably resembles an eel and slithers along the bottom of the stream like a snake searching for food. Certain native lamprey species are endangered in Ohio and are excellent indicators of cleaner water quality. Like most fishes which are either threatened or endangered, loss of habitat and poor water quality contribute to their declining numbers.

Continuing with nature’s sideshow, Hocking Hills streams are home to Madtom catfish. Madtoms are small catfish usually inhabiting grassy and weedy river and stream banks, in shallow, moderately calm waters. They are very small fishes usually found under 5 inches and can deliver a nasty sting if handled improperly. A common species of madtoms found in the Hocking Hills region is the mountain madtom.

Yet another oddity lurking in the hills are the stickleback minnows. Sticklebacks are small, elongate fishes, olive green and yellowish in color with small spines jutting up from their backs. They are a distant relative of the salt water seahorses and pipe fishes, and resemble a little wind up bath tub toy, as they propel through the water with great precision, stopping instantly in mid-water like a helicopter hovering still in midair! During spawning season, sticklebacks become little carpenters with fins. Carrying in their mouths, they will actually move small detritus (sticks, leaves, stones, and other small debris) to a safe spot, where a family nest can be constructed and guarded!

Lastly, let us not forget the gars. Gar fish are also fishes which have changed little since the days of dinosaurs! If an alligator could do it’s best impression of a fish, it would look like a gar fish! In fact, one gar fish, although not found in Hocking Hills waters, is appropriately named the alligator gar--a fish that has historically been known to reach a length of 12 feet! Short-nosed and long-nosed gar, however, are found in the larger deeper rivers in the Hocking Hills region in backwater pools and along quiet banks where there is heavy weedy vegetation. They are passive predators feeding on other small fishes. Gars often swim just under the surface of the water basking in sunlight. Most gars reach a maximum length of 3 feet.

Now let us finish up our tour of the Hocking Hills waters taking a brief look at the popular SUNFISH FAMILY.

The following covers the most familiar fishes of the sunfish family, which are also found in certain waters of the Hocking Hills. In North America, this group of fishes comprises roughly 30 species. Many angles mistakenly refer to various species of sunfish as bluegill, when in fact, bluegill are just one particular species of sunfish. For example, one who is fishing may refer to what is actually the brightly colored central long ear sunfish or the pumpkinseed sunfish as a bluegill. Looking closer, however, there are distinct differences. As mentioned earlier, as with all of the fishes previously mentioned, these too, can be identified in the Peterson’s field guide.

The sunfish have all the earth-toned colors that seem to emulate and mimic the very same colors of the Autumn time woodlands to which they are indigenous. If you happen to enjoy fishing, examine the differences between these fishes in your catch. If you are catching and releasing, be sure to not handle a fish with dry hands, as this irritates their slime layer. The “slime layer” is a protective thin smooth coating over the body of fishes which helps to protect them from infection and disease. Some common types of sunfish similar in appearance, but which are not all bluegill, are rock bass, warmouth sunfish, red ear, shell cracker sunfish (named because of this fishes’ appetite for small snails), orange spotted sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish and green sunfish. Sunfish prefer habitats ranging from weedy shallows to open pools in a particular river system.

Well, there you have it, an introduction to some of the fishes in the Hocking Hills region. If your interest in exploring fish in the Hocking Hills has been “baited,” learn more about what you can do to keep our streams healthy and clean. Contact your state wildlife division to learn more, or consider joining their “Adopt-A-Stream“ program. Additionally, you may want to consider joining or starting a local watershed stewardship group. There are other components of this region’s unique wildlife assembly that deserve just as much attention to conservation and appreciation as others, no matter how small, large, pretty or not they may be! To lose these local species of fishes through habitat neglect, is to begin to lose the clean water and life support systems that ultimately support our own lives--as well as lose an integral and delicate part of our region’s diverse natural heritage.

Note: You can search Google Images to find many photos of all the fishes mentioned in this article. To learn more about native fishes of North America, contact The North American Native Fishes Association http://www.nanfa.org or to identify all of the above mentioned fishes, obtain a copy of Peterson's Field Guide To North American Fishes available at local book stores or from your local library.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cleveland Lakefront Needs To Be Green


My comments concern the lakefront and making it more environmentally friendly and creating a role model of waterfront sustainability for other places.


While so many other cities have completely paved over and developed their waterfronts with the same hodge podge of establishments, Cleveland has the chance to do something really different. Instead of following the typical development bandwagon that results on city waterfronts, we should strive to promote the restoration of some natural beach areas--which can be carefully implemented into any development. Such a plan could give people a glimpse of samples of what the shoreline might have looked like pre-settlement. Chicago is a pretty good example of maintaining beachfront, as well as Sydney, Australia. The fact that there is a lot of green space right in the city CBD makes such places standout cities, and places of choice in which to live.

Picture this: Swimable/fishable clean beaches near downtown Cleveland other than Edgewater....trees and natural prairie areas (as in Wendy Park)...interspersed with light residential areas that will NOT perpetuate the uses of lawn chemicals right near the lake, as so often is the case in the suburban shoreline areas. This would serve as a great example of living in harmony with nature in what is a heavy urban environment.

There is a lot of wildlife near the airport (Burke)--and in some ways, such an area became inadvertently---a preserve for many kinds of birds and backyard friendly wildlife because of the airport limiting human access to the lake. We should try to preserve as much of this rare city element as possible. I feel strongly that if we are going to be a city that is about innovation---sustainability, and 'being green'...we've got to implement ideas like this within our planning.

Lake Erie represents a major international flyway for migratory birds. It is our best physical attribute---And our strongest social and economic asset---so, we need to not practice the neglectful and abusive development habits of the past. It seems only a fair turn of events that would have Cleveland--and other cities with similar industrial histories notoriously noted for riverbank and shoreline abuse---demonstrate a complete turnaround in how such resources are treated. Such turn around would be restoring more of our natural heritage. Such was sacrificed to build the city we all know. Maybe it is time to give a little bit back.


On a side note: According to David Beach of Green City Blue Lake, a local organization working in collaboration with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to promotes economic, social and environmental sustainability through out our Cleveland and North East Ohio area---during the Cleveland’s lakefront planning process several years ago, their organization conducted a workshop to explore ideas for implementing such shoreline restoration as described above, and they continue to support and promote such ideas. Here is a summary of the workshop, as well as a link to Green City/Blue Lake.




http://www.ecocitycleveland.org/ecologicaldesign/blue/eco-restoration.html


www.greencitybluelake.org


Photo: Lake Erie Sunset At North Coast Harbor Promenade-Downtown Cleveland

Friday, November 28, 2008

RADIO MYSTERY THEATER NIGHT SOCIAL

ANNOUNCING THE NEW RADIO THEATER NIGHT SOCIAL!

The Radio Mystery Theater Night Social is back....at "APERTURE" PHOTOGRAPHY GALLERY AND VARIETY STORE at 2541 Scranton Rd. – Cleveland. Telephone is: 216-574-8977. This event usually takes place here every 2nd Thursday Of The Month--6:00 PM.

The setting is unique...a quirky retro kitschy look on the outside, and a classic nostalgic look on the inside with various photography and other nostalgic items for sale. Books, photography, cameras, and other items of classic interest will eventually be available in addition to unique working vintage cameras, film, and prints! The look and feel of Aperture is cozy and intimate and lounge-like. There is a refreshment and snack bar all set in inviting colors and an old wooden floor.

APERTURE is directly on the northeast corner of Starkweather and Scranton Rd....about a 1,500 feet walk from the bookstore where we previously held this event. While we do have space on the property and on the street for 8 or so vehicles total, in the spirit of saving space and energy, we do encourage, if possible, to walk, ride a bike, take public transport..or carpool if you can!
You may also bring your own wine of you wish. If you do so, please bring your own glass in the spirit of going green! Light snacks are usually served, but you may bring your own.

MORE ABOUT RADIO MYSTERY THEATER NIGHT SOCIAL......

Radio Mystery Theater—refreshing alternative to television!

Did you ever hear the old saying "it's so old it's new?" Well, that is what I can say about old time radio theater because listening to it is such a refreshing break from television or movies. I have a disc collection of CBS's "Radio Mystery Theater" which ran from 1974 until 1982.

This show was produced by long time radio theater creator Hyman Brown and hosted by E.G. Marshall--who had the kind of storytelling voice that made you want to gather around a fireplace on a cold October night! CBS Radio Mystery Theater was actually a rebirth of radio theater which had been absent from---or rare on the radio airwaves for several years prior. It featured many great guest actors and iconic voices, as well as the little known performer.

Long before television people used to gather around the radio and listen to their favorite shows. Featured were such subjects as drama, adventure, comedy, horror, and mystery. My favorite is mystery. Now let me get on with why I like these radio shows so much!

In radio theater, unlike television or movies, I appreciate the fact that since there is no moving picture to go along with the dialogue, the script writing had to be very descriptive and imaginative to paint the picture of what is happening in one's mind. There were no super enhanced computer effects to make up for the substance a particular storyline lacks, which in my opinion seems to be so common in many of today's mainstream movies. Quality writing is what radio theater is all about and if that's what you like that's what you'll get! Most of the time, the acting is fabulous!

Additionally, another advantage of radio theater is that it offers a chance for improving listening skills, increasing attention span---and developing your imagination. It gives the eyes a rest from the glare of the television too! I like laying down, closing the eyes and allow the picture to form in my mind...the characters, the scenes, the time periods etc.... It can become addictive! Radio theater is making a comeback on various local public radio stations in Cleveland/N.E. Ohio!

Aperture and Radio Theater Night Social!......

RADIO MYSTERY THEATER NIGHT SOCIAL

Every 2nd Thursday Of The Month--6:00 PM "APERTURE" PHOTOGRAPHY GALLERY AND VARIETY STORE at 2541 Scranton Rd. – Cleveland. Telephone is: 216-574-8977

Join "APERTURE" PHOTOGRAPHY GALLERY AND VARIETY STORE for an evening of old time radio mystery theater, Every 2nd Thursday of the month starting at 6:00 PM. Sit back, relax…bring your favorite spirits, or favorite snack---or enjoy refreshments/snacks when available (we will be offering snack trays as an occasional courtesy) and hear many famous voice actors performing great stories by many classic radio writers--all in a nostalgic and intimate setting. These stories were crafted especially for radio and to stir your imagination without relying on a picture on a screen!

Between acts, there will be breaks for socializing and mingling with others who appreciate this truly unique lost art form existing long before television. The evening will be hosted by “Classic Movies Radio and Nostalgia” Meet Up Group, in cooperation with Aperture Photography Gallery/Studio and Variety Store! Please call Calvin at: 216-401-3118 or Robert at:330-393-4448, your hosts, to learn more about this free event---or if you need directions to Aperture, in Cleveland‘s historic Tremont neighborhood.

Monday, November 24, 2008

ALTERNATIVE GIFT GIVING AND SPENDING IDEAS


Contrary to the big push in America by crash commercialism that suggests the more we spend the better our lives and the economy will be, I have some alternative thoughts about that idea. Let me share…..

For too long we have all bought into the myth that spending more will rescue the economy---when in fact the opposite is true, and that is, it simply creates more debt and increases default chances. There is an organization on the web, called The Center For A New American Dream that challenges the prevailing market driven mentality that 'more’ or ‘cheaper’ is better. Reading their information over the years has helped me understand the difference between quantity and quality in our overall lives and particularly, the consumer economy.

Additionally, reading a lot of CFNAD material has helped set me free from staying on board of the robotic never ending tread mill of guilt trips we are on, instilled by heavy marketing--that if we don’t buy this time of year, we are not showing our loved ones we care, or that we‘re not patriotic….or any other number of warm and cozy guilt trip sentiments. Such mentality, in my opinion, is just another way the marketers have brainwashed and have the public under a spell. Mass marketers are running our lives and we rarely stop to see how and why. They tell us what we need to live well and be happy. Excuse me, but I’d like to make that choice myself.

The great news in all that commercial chaos is there is a different way to give during this time of year, and surprisingly it does not always have to involve a lot of STUFF that will one day clutter the garage or wind up at the curb, or worse yet---the landfill! One Christmas not long ago, every gift I gave was creatively crafted from recycled materials I found around the home. Adding to that, I found many other alternative gift ideas through the CFNAD organization. For example, I bought an old small book shelf from a local-independent retailer who sold second hand items...and refinished it myself.

I always thought using wrapping paper once and pitching it was such an injustice to our natural world so I used old comic sections from newspapers to wrap other re-used gifts I purchased in the same way I described above. As you can imagine, most of the gifts were second hand--but when they came together to make the new item, the end result was something new to the recipient of the gift!. I also did favors for loved ones. I did things such as clean their carpets or wash the car--and even offered the gift of time by cooking for someone. If you have any talents that may be useful to someone, you may want to consider offering them as a gift.

It really felt good to give and to help the local independent business economy AND the environment in this way by re-using and recycling through my gift giving. This is so very opposite of conventional ways---which makes Christmas time not the ‘most wonderful time of year‘…but, the most wasteful! Those who received my gifts really appreciated me taking the time and exercising a bit of creative fun in how I chose to ‘give’ Best of all, people were happy, and it was something I did not have to go into an insurmountable amount of debt to achieve! It was such a great feeling all around to break the bonds of the conventional consumer chains.

The alternative ideas of gift giving and buying are endless and creative....and are such that actually help the local independent economy by supporting those businesses....as well as not creating insurmountable public debt. I urge people to have a glance at the CFNAD website and learn why Black Friday as we know it, is actually more destructive to the economy than it is helpful.

The moral of the story today is doing more of what matters and has meaning, instead of doing just more. The message is that sometimes less is actually more. If we are going to spend money on Friday, please try what I did for a change, if you never have….and support your local and independent neighborhood businesses as often as possible as an alternative to the big box chains. By doing so, you will help to keep neighborhood storefronts and town centers from becoming ghost towns. By doing so holds many benefits too numerous to mention---but for starters, you will likely develop new friends and connections with the merchants as well as help keep money, jobs, and taxes in the neighborhood, create more walkable and less auto-dependent communities---AND help to mend tightly the very fabric that makes up a real community of connections; people knowing and helping people!

One final note….The Center For A New American Dream will also teach you about what “BUY NOTHING” day is and how it can actually benefit the economy more than spending can --However, as I demonstrated above, if you still want to spend, ok, but try the suggested alternatives because they have a more positive impact on the local economy and environment. How about promoting a time of year when we focus on more of what matters, than simply "more" (stuff, that is) You’ll feel prouder and better, trust me!

Photo: Public Square Holiday Lights

Saturday, November 22, 2008

GET OFF THE PHONE!!!!

I have no problem acknowledging the convenience attributes of today’s mobile phones. I use one myself. What I cannot and will not acknowledge, however, is the incessant over use and abuse of this little piece of technology. Such a culture has demonstrated great rudeness to me; and another example of an ever increasing erosion of personal human contact.

Why do I arrive at such a broad opinion? Well, let’s see, life experience has to count for something! I will share mine….

How many times have you been in a meeting, at work, in a classroom , or just standing in line somewhere and suddenly you are forced to listen to a rather loud and obnoxious rung tone?---After which, the dramatic conversation begins!

Did I really need to hear that ring tone or the conversation? Did the speaker at the meeting need to be interrupted by the ring tone?

Additionally, do we really need to be dragged against our will into the someone else’s dramatic conversation?

If people are going to do engage in personal conversation in front of everyone else, the least bit of manners they can exercise is to excuse themselves away from the rest of us in a corner somewhere. Prior to the call, though, the ring tone going off is the epitome of RUDE! Hey you! Ever hear of silent mode? Chirp or vibration perhaps my friend?

Cell phones going off all the time and people engaging in personal conversation is one thing about lack of etiquette in using a mobile phone but I am no where near finished…

How about the scenario that has 3 or 4 people (teenagers play a part in this rude breach of the mobile phone code of etiquette) talking on their phone while ignoring the company they’re presently with? Is the company in person/people with the phone user not stimulating enough? In the case of teens using mobile phones at school, I cannot justify the need for carrying such a device. If they need to be contacted, then the parents can call the school--and the student can be paged to take a phone call at the office. How many times have I heard stories from teachers who hear these devices going off in the classrooms during tests, despite school rules prohibiting them! Rude….Rude--And unnecessary!

I know there are a lot of parents who have actually been conditioned to think they need the phone---and have lost all concept that such a device is really used out of convenience, not a need. A convenience for most people, unless you are on call or in a situation, or have an occupation that requires you to be contacted immediately somehow.

School kids, and soccer Mom’s I am not sold on the paranoia that they’ll enter dire straits without their phone! Not a necessity to have a mobile phone, but instead, a conditioning of the mind to mistake it as a need, rather than the convenience it is. Funny how not very long ago, my friends and I never needed to rely on such technology, and we played plenty of sports and had near perfect attendance at school.

Uhhh yes, those were the good old days back in ancient the 80’s and 90’s when we toughed it out, indeed. How sad to think these kids are so brainwashed to think that a mobile phone is something which they cannot do without! Unfortunately, the children of some of the parents who are mobile phone junkies are also now conditioned to think they ‘need’ a mobile phone.

Well, I guess this is the result when we allow ourselves to become so co-dependent on technology to do everything from spell, wash windows, clean the yard, blow our noses or wipe our butts! Sure, parents always want better for their kids, but the question we need to ask these days, is ‘more’ better? Or is creating an ever increasing co-dependence on gadgets something that is conducive to nurturing critically thinking self relying population? Is spoiling or making everything easier necessarily a good thing. These questions would be posed by those who are thinking---but has the phone become another culprit to the dummying down of a population who will NOT think?

Still more rude and inconsiderate uses of the mobile phone have now taken to the road. How many times do we witness what has become the standard American pose: The proverbial soccer Mom, driving alone in her gas guzzling tank, totally oblivious to the traffic around her--one hand on the wheel; one hand to the head holding the phone. (rude AND dangerous to other drivers and what has become the standard American pose!) Isn’t anyone doing what they’re supposed to be doing anymore without involving the phone? I wonder, what aren’t we doing these days while driving? Everything BUT driving! The mobile phone… and driving, don’t mix. If you must, why not take advantage of the hands free options.

Finally, I have to laugh at the guy walking down the street talking to himself (How it looks before I knew about the blue tooth) while walking his dog. Isn‘t the old dog good enough to give all his attention to? Please, stop the above nonsense…..turn off the phone, put it down, leave it at home for a change. If you’re not available, someone will leave a message. The convenience of having the phone in hand all the time simply results in a lot of unnecessary use and abuse of this product. It was not intended to be glued to your hand or head. Through such abuse of the mobile phone, we have seemed to forget what it me and to enjoy or respect all which surrounds us in a particular moment---because whoever is on the other end of our phone, has obviously become more interesting or a priority. If you have witnessed any other form of rude, excessive use, or abuse of the mobile phone, please share your comments!



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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

GET THE PICTURE?

Is your blog bland? Well picture this….Why not add some stunning pictures to your creative words? Great idea if you’re a photographer---or if you know one---OR, if you have a great camera? That would make it all so easy. But what if you don’t have the luxury of any of that?

Sure you could search the web for photos--But--that entails a lot of permission requests, can sometimes be costly--and then there is the need for a lot of time searching for just the right image…as well as formatting and size issues you will have to consider. All of that can be such a hassle, and can take away the time you need to focus on what you do best---and that’s writing for your blog!

Luckily there is a much more efficient way to find just the right photos you need to make your blog the best it can be! At Acobox, we take all the work out of searching for blog pictures! We have the sizes, the subjects, and a variety to match any theme of any article on any blog, all on one easy to use website--Best of all its all FREE! Photo themes such as urban and natural landscapes, outer space, animals and architecture…its all on Acobox! To get started,…GET THE PICTURE, and go get your free account now!

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

SMOKING BAD FOR BUSINESS-BAD HEALTH BAD FOR ECONOMY

Where did I hear someone say “Having a smoking section in a restaurant is like having a peeing section in a swimming pool?” What a great metaphor! I could not agree more with this statement so when Ohio joined the growing number of progressive states prohibiting smoking indoors, I was ecstatic! I helped to pass out a lot of information about why the ban is a good idea to those who would vote on the issue so I had such a great feeling of helping to accomplish a milestone in this state. The archaic argument that bars or restaurants will lose business if smoking is prohibited is finally revealing itself as the ‘smoke and mirror’ myth that it really is. The only benefits go to the tobacco industry as far as I am concerned.

I have always looked at the “restaurants/bars would lose business without smoking” notion as B.S. and in fact believed that such establishments would actually lose more business if they permitted smoking within their confines---by chasing away the buying power of all those who refrain from going out because of the concern of being subjected to second hand smoke.

Additionally, what about the costly damage second hand smoke does to interiors like carpet, cloth, walls, and light fixtures. (uhhh…besides everyone’s lungs!) I also factored the cost levied on the public in terms of health care and lost productivity in the workforce due to smoking related illnesses. Did anyone ever consider lost revenue for bars or restaurants---and expense on society because of those factors? Major world cities like New York and Sydney, Australia--as well as one of the largest states, California, have all implemented smoking bans and no one is shutting down because it. In fact, many argue that business has increased. All of those places have plenty of smokers as well and smoke bans have not stopped them from going out!

I often wondered at what point did society deem it appropriate… or more importantly, necessary, to accommodate a self indulgent and destructive habit that satisfies a few---BUT…hurts many innocent others----in their place of business---Especially in such a place as a restaurant, where the food should be the major attraction??? When did all that start and WHY? To illustrate the stupidity in the logic of accommodating bad habits ,like smoking in restaurants, I will say that we should not discriminate against those who prefer a farting section! How about a nose picking and booger flinging section while were at it? Yes, sounds ridiculous, but is it any less ridiculous than the idea of smoke from one or two people creeping around and polluting everyone else’s personal airspace. At least you stand a better chance of the fart gas dissipating before it reaches your table than the smoke!

The smoke free workplace in Ohio was passed by voters in November of 2006 overwhelmingly and will only work and be fair when all places comply. That is why I just get so infuriated when I see violations occurring. It is not fair to places actually trying to do the right thing.

One other point about a bar or restaurant losing business…I ask: TO WHOM? If all smoking is banned in all places statewide across the board, and other states following the trend, is someone going to travel out of state until they find a place in a particular state where they can smoke? Maybe so, but IF so, it demonstrates the serious problem of a personal self indulgent addiction that would cause someone to drive so far just to suck smoke into their lungs. It really says something about the pathetic state of a drug addicted society---and we should not build an economy around bad habits that will end up levying a cost burden on all of society in the future.

It is time for restaurant and bar owners to craft a new vision and philosophy about the kinds of customers they can attract. There is an untapped and neglected market of health conscious individuals. Is the non-smoking crowd’s money not good enough? Why is it that some of the most successful restaurant chains and local businesses in Greater Cleveland and North East Ohio are smoke free--and have been long before the ban?

If restaurants or bars are depending on smokers to be a part of generating most of their business rather than the product the establishment actually offers (good food and drink and fun times)---Well, all I can say its that‘s pretty sad and just plain dysfunctional. It’s just sooooo…. “Wal-Mart!” Like I said, the health cost burden and lack of productivity in the economy courtesy of a sick populous is not worth the rest of us continuing to tolerate it as we have for years.

Hey smokers, no one said you cannot smoke…No one is taking your right to kill yourself away. All the law is saying is that you now must exercise your responsibility and do it in such a way where it does not affect others. Freedom without exercising your responsibility is NOT your right or anyone else’s. It is simple: you just have to go outside--and while you’re e at it, please do one more thing, could you stand far away enough from the door so that the second hand smoke does not get sucked back inside when people are coming and going? Oh amd wait…One more itty bitty thing, please bin your butts. The earth is not your ashtray.

The majority--the non-smokers have tolerated you for many years, while you have imposed unhealthiness upon us---now it is our turn to impose healthiness on you. Sorry, some of us have the selfish interest of wanting to breathe. Thanks to a grass roots effort by Ohio activists and voters, we have helped make that possible---and now we can move in a more progressive and productive direction in society.

Lastly, to all those who support the ban and realize the benefits, if you notice any smoking violations in Ohio, please call and report them to the Ohio Department Of Health’s toll free smoking violation line at 1-866-559-OHIO (6446). Your help counts. Please note the name of the establishment, address of violation, the approximate time and date, and the county of which the violation took place. Listed below is an unofficial list of those who chose to violate the smoke free law. Make it clear to them that you will not support those who break the law. Inquire with the Ohio State Department of Health what happens to those establishments who purposely balk at the new law.

Below is a link to an unofficial list of those establishments in Ohio who chose to balk at the law.

http://www.smokechoke.com/



P.S. I can find a lot more people who 'smoked for 40 years' who are DEAD, than the one exception smokers frequently point out about some relative of theirs, their Grandpappy, who smoked for 40 years and is just fine! Absurd logic!

Friday, November 14, 2008

SOUNDS OF INTEGRITY-SOUNDS YOU’LL LOVE!



Since 1994 I have been following the talents of a local singing group named “SOUNDS OF INTEGRITY” I remember the first time I witnessed their talents. It was in April 1994 at The Cleveland Hilton South Hotel, now the Doubletree Hotel, perched atop the slope overlooking downtown Cleveland---off of Rockside Rd. I was accompanied a longtime friend since High School in the rather classy hotel lounge after a Cleveland Indians baseball game----during the same week former US President Richard Nixon passed away.

After the game we thought we would grab a quick drink and a snack---and this is when I was drawn in by a singing group actually singing the tunes and music genres I thought I’d never get to hear live---and thought were lost closet classics. The Sounds Of Integrity have been singing for many years--and singing , according to me remembering a comment by one group member, was a family passion since childhood.

By now, you are probably wondering what kind of music they sing. Well, you name it and they’ll probably be better at it than some of the original artists. Genres ranging from 1950’s Doo-Wop, to 1960’s Classic R&B and Soul, to Philly Soul, Jazz and Motown….to Adult Contemporary and even Disco---to today’s popular Easy Listening tunes of all the same genres I just mentioned. Motown, If you think none of this is not your cup of tea, think again, because they please crowds of all ages and all walks of life!

If you enjoy the following artists, you’ll love a night out with The Sounds Of Integrity… Artists such as The Delfonics, Blue magic, The Temptations, The Stylistics, Earth, Wind and Fire, Tavares, The Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald, Billy Joel, Barry White, Marvin Gaye, Natalie Cole, The Whispers, Frankie Valli, Mel Torme, Babyface, George Benson, Swing Out Sister, Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin, Oleta Adams, Roberta Flack, Bloodstone, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes,, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Manhattan Transfer, Glenn Miller, Louis Prima, Heatwave, and the list can go on and on---The Sounds Of Integrity have many influences. The best part of the show its that they get the audience involved. They are very personable and will walk right up and sing next to you with the mobile microphones.

The group usually do the vocal performance with customized quality soundtracks to the particular tune---but can play with a live band as well. They are such good singers, that I often thought that they sound excellent with no background music at all---just straight vocal harmonies. So if you are in for a special and fun night out--and you’re in the Cleveland/N.E. Ohio area, you have to check this out! You may not be the greatest dancer, but you’ll be chair dancing and foot tapping the whole night through.

I am glad I have had the pleasure of acquainting with The Sounds Of Integrity all these years, The group is led by husband and wife lead singers, Ramon and Margo Scruggs. Ed Blair rounds out the usual trio. Folks, if you’re reading this, what was the name of the great new addition?… The guy with the really deep voice? Sorry, I allowed the name to slip passed me when I was so taken by his singing style! This blog spot is a tribute to them and a THANKS for making every evening I saw you sing, a very fun one!

Photos: Me, Maria, and Sounds Of Integrity

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Attractions At Cleveland


This photo is so inviting. It is a classic post card which evokes images of a well dressed and spoken era!

The Culture Of Loud-Notice Loud Music Everywhere You Go These Days?

Have you noticed that it seems everywhere you go these days you are having to shout over loud music or some other kind of noise? Think for a moment. Here is a list of places to name a few: Restaurants. No such thing as a quiet dinner anymore. Fuel stations. Why do I need to hear screaming speakers blaring at me when I am pumping gasoline? Convenience stores, clothing stores, book stores... Yes, I said book stores! I thought this was one place I could go for some peace and quiet to be alone with my thoughts...WRONG! Oh well, I guess the marketers in America don't want us to be alone with our thoughts anymore because we might just THINK about the purchase we are making and discover we really don't need it!

Ok, lets continue with that list....We hear loud music in department stores, on the streets from those KA-THUMP....KA-THUMP noise making machines installed in cars. The list could go on and the only way I can explain it is that we are cultivating a population addicted to noise. The more we are subjected to the noise the more some of us think we need to have it. Some people are exposed so much to noise that they don't know what it is like to enjoy giving peace and quiet a chance.

Of all my experiences in learning about the American culture of loud and rude, I can only come to the conclusion that once someone becomes so used to hearing loud music filling the ear canals--a strange phenomenon occurs--and that is, once the sound is turned off---the sound of silence is deafening!

I don't know how to explain this in scientific terms, but I know audiologists can--and may refer the following phenomenon I describe as "ACOUSTIC OVER-STIMULATION"----AND....from what I have read and experienced---when someone becomes addicted to loud music in their....ears and once it is turned off, the sound of silence becomes a loud hissing sort of noise--and is less tolerable than the loud music itself in their ears. Woah! That was a long winded explanation but I hope it made sense!

Why are restaurants contributing to the noise culture? Is there some kind of strange pre-conceived assumption that customers want loud music? I am talking about a restaurant now...Not a night club. I don't know about you, but I never walked OUT of a restaurant because the music was not loud enough. I may also add that in these restaurants, the loud music is NOT calming background dinner music, rather it is a loud thumping sound.

Why have so many restaurants joined this trend? Is there an assumption that it will drive people nuts, make them eat faster--or MORE--and thus, somehow create a higher turnover rate? I know a lot of people who will walk out of a restaurant if it is too loud. I often wondered, how is the loud music supposed to enhance my meal? It certainly doesn't help my digestion, rather, it makes me want to spew all over the dining room like that fat guy in the Monty Python movie!

Anyway, there is definitely something different surrounding us these days with being acoustically assaulted everywhere we go. I am not someone who expects my surroundings to be as quiet as a funeral home all the time, but if you have any inkling as to what I am writing about, you have to admit the loud music assault EVERYWHERE we go these days is a bit much--and soooo ‘in-your-face‘ obnoxious and rude! A most recent experience was in a Best Buy store. It prompted me to write the letter below to one of their corporate bots. It was a follow up letter in support of a fellow noise pollution activist.



Dear Amanda,

As a fellow activist in reducing unnecessary noise in my community, I fully support Judy Ellis' platform in her letter on noise inside your stores. It must stop. I walked out of your store at least three times without a purchase due to this nonsense. Judy is right---It is NOT music coming from these devices, it is noise, period. You do not have the right to impose on all of your customers, what appeals to only a few in the anti-social bunch---who will then purchase the equipment you sell and turn loose on a helpless public---this imposing noise which starts inside your stores. Thanks to that nonsense, I have lost countless hours of quality rest needed to perform my job well. I am only one of tens of thousands who can claim the same, young and old alike.

I have wondered often.....Are you (Best Buy) happy being a part of driving the public crazy and inflicting the kind of physical damage that can result from particular kinds of unnecessary and excessive noise? I suggest you get an education as to what you are doing to the public by visiting www.noiseoff.org. Regardless, I am sure you and your colleagues will find some way to rationalize the noise addiction and your decision to impose it upon your customers, but the fact remains, it is wrong. If the few who purchase such noise making products, packaged and marketed as 'music delivery systems', want to ruin their hearing by 30, so be it, but the rest of us do not wish to lose ours--or pay for their future disability in some way.

I suggest you offer those addicted to the noise a private room with headphones for demonstrations if they want to ruin their hearing. Because of promoting such products, you are in part, responsible for countless communities nationwide to have to spend time and public money re-writing ordinances to curb this noise. It is corporate irresponsibility all the way--and such that depends upon a buyer making the irresponsible decision to unleash the noise on the public.

You can at least take immediate action by stopping the noise assault on ALL your customers to lure the few. I cannot shop in your store and make an important purchase decision because of your decisions to assault customers with loud bass. I cannot even hear the salesman! Secondly, warn customers that if they purchase such products like the car audio devices, they may be subject to heavy fines for using such equipment illegally on the road.

Lastly, I have a question... How many people can you prove---have NOT walked into your store because of LACK of noise? Probably none! On the other hand, I can tell you that many will walk out because of too much noise. The deafer the public becomes, the louder your equipment will get---and when they become totally deaf...you will no longer have a customer base, will you? Hmmmm.. How much will this cost the social system? Please stop behaving like corporate brats out of control. Please grow up and turn the noise down!

Regards,
Robert S. Carillio
Cleveland, Ohio



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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama--The Breath Of Fresh Air The US Desperately Needs

As I watched election night unfold I must admit there were moments I had a notion that John McCain would pull ahead or near with Barack Obama in the electoral votes. It was about the time when the east was awaiting vote tallies from the west. I thought ok, we did our job over here---now come on west, we need some support out there. I thought this especially in light of Ohio finally turning blue, a major hurdle and victory for the Obama campaign.

Both these campaigns fought long and grueling affairs so I figured the final outcome of the race would be close. But when the west tallies started coming in, and blue started to color the western map, I began to believe that this country still had some hope for not only planting the seeds to cultivate needed change here---but I also had hope that we would gain the kind of respect as a world community member this country so desperately needed after what I saw as 8 years of a corrupt and shameful administration. Sure, all administrations had their share of corruption---but the one we have endured for the last eight years has brought the word to a whole new level.

Barack Obama surely has a shipload of crisis to deal with upon starting his administration. The economy, education, health care, crime, poverty, the environment and so on----But in these difficult times, I think what people saw in Obama was a guy who talked to them---not at them. He reached out to everyone and listened to their concerns no matter what age, race, socio-economic level and promoted a union of the nation to solve problems by listening to all---and not division by seemingly listening or appealing to one half only.

Throughout the campaign, I began to listen to him and to be honest, he just made a lot of sense to me in which direction this country should be heading locally and internationally as a world example setter and leader. As his campaign victory was sealed by clinching it with the 270 needed electoral votes, I began to feel chains broken of the kind of mental imprisonment for simply too long, made me feel our country was more a bully on the block, than a welcomed neighbor.

I think Barack Obama is going to make a great President. I feel even those who may not have supported him so much now---or who were undecided, can put away the kind of fears that hold us back from evolving as a nation---and will discover what I have noticed about this guy.

In light of the Obama win, I feel John McCain gave a most humbling speech. I thought his urging of some of his supporters to refrain from shouting remarks of frustration really said something about his integrity--and in facet, with this speech, gained a degree of admiration and respect for him from me. I think he will work now to unite the country again with Obama---and stop the kinds of division that would cause this nation to crumble in so many ways---and from becoming a nation of haves and have- nots.

I feel Barack Obama will be the kind of President the US needs is because he really seems to be in touch with people from all walks of life---and articulate himself as a leader if integrity, which projects locally and abroad. I feel he will set the stage to give this country a new chance for a new economic beginning that nurtures the economy from the ground up. From the ’ground up’ is how the economy originally grew, and for too long , it has been a concept that has been ignored through the promotion of the failing trickle down economic theory. In other words, Main Street survived long before there was ever a Wall Street.

The economy was grown from the roots of the many independent and family owned businesses. By creating such an economic environment will set a stage here that has people less depending on big business to employ us all, thus breeding the economic diversity that will breed stability. More people will be able to compete as independent businesses and make a living for themselves. Environmentally speaking, I feel we will be a country that relies much less on oil, not just foreign oil---but OIL--in that new alternative energy ideas will be introduced. There will be many jobs created in the new age of cleaner, greener fuels, and our environment will be better off.

On election night 2008, I think America finally grew up and is ready to leave behind a path of destructive division--socially, economically, and environmentally.


See Obama's victory speech:

http://video.ap.org/v/Default.aspx?g=007659e2-42b8-4f0a-b95c-052a40b932d3&mk=en-ap&f=advoh

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

STREETCARS ANYONE?

Did you know there was a time when most cities in Ohio, larger and smaller had the choice of rail passenger streetcars for all their transportation needs? In Cleveland, for example, many people knew exactly what it meant to walk more and rely on public transport---even much more than you see today. Indeed this was the way of life up until the mid 1950’s when the streetcars started to disappear due to reasons like decreased ridership from an ever-growing auto-dependent society lulled by the appeal of having one’s own transportation to escape the crowds of public transport--- AND lulled by the idea of the independence of living on one’s own transportation schedule, rather than the public transport schedule.

While this may have seemed like the most convenient way to go at the time, years later I think we are witnessing a resurgence in alternative transportation methods like biking, walking, bus and light rail--not only because of increased fuel costs, but also because of the fact that the “independent” schedule we used to enjoy in transporting ourselves rather than taking buses or trains, may no longer be the case. The reason for this is because urban sprawl has so crammed up the freeways, that a lot of people no longer find that scenario a bowl of fruit either!

Did you know that Cleveland has a gem of a streetcar museum paying homage to the history of streetcar transportation in the city and surrounding area? I will list the link to the museum at the end of this article. I have spoken with one museum contact and it was indicated to me that in the future, it is very likely that we will see a streetcar line return to Cleveland, called The Heritage Line, that will offer no only transportation around downtown, but also a chance to experience what it was like to ride these wonderful machines!

Below there is a link to a film that was apparently shot on one of the last days or maybe the last day of streetcar operation in Cleveland. Notice how people from all walks of life shared the trains as described in the video description. I find this interesting considering that many people these days here seem to think public transport is a second class form of transportation. Well, I suggest they travel to many other cities around the world and discover a whole other perspective! Maybe by seeing the short film below, we will remember what it was like here and see why rail should be a transportation choice made available to us in what is supposed to be the "land of choice" Today, many of the old Cleveland streetcars reside in Toronto Canada. For more information about streetcar history in Cleveland, contact the museum!

Streetcar Movie:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CdQb7yH2xY&feature=related


Streetcar Heritage Museum:


http://www.lsery.org/




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Monday, October 27, 2008

DON'T UNDER-ESTIMATE CLEVELAND

It seems that a lot of people cannot shake the sometimes negative image the word “Cleveland” evokes. Whether the image stems from some of the people who have resided in the area for a lifetime and have seen the ups and downs and are still true to their hometown---or whether the image comes from those who have heard negative things from people who heard it from some people who haven’t even been here--much less took the time to explore the region, this perception is more often than not, greatly exaggerated and often undeserved.

While I am not suggesting this city is without flaw or problems which need be addressed, in no way are any of them endemic to Cleveland alone. I think our biggest enemy is the self esteem issues many Clevelanders inherit about their city which seem to get passed on from person to person via what comes mostly from hearsay---until the point people start believing the bad things they hear and just accept things as they’re told. But shouldn’t we

I, on the other hand have always been an independent thinker, and never followed the crowd or believed something just because everyone was repeating what they heard like parrots mimicking sounds. Rather, I have been an explorer of the myriad of surprises and treasures we possess in all that surrounds the arts, local history and culture existing right before our eyes. I have uncovered a place that was really one of the major wheels that got this country rolling, yet who‘s role in doing so seems confidently forgotten. I took the time leering about the area, its history and its contributions to society. I have learned about our wonderful natural parks and landscapes, museums, the cultural diversities, architecture , many famous persons, and much more.

I sometimes discover blogs on the internet produced by proud enthusiastic individuals who love and are proud to call Cleveland and surrounds their home. They have taken the time to explore and discover what a lot of people aren’t aware of. So, if you are someone who thinks ’east is least and west is best’, I invite you to visit the blog below and read about what an interesting place Cleveland really is--a very underrated city and metro area.

Cleveland is amongst one of many of the nation’s ’original big cities’ --- and just looking at the street grid/layout of the city, and the many fine remaining examples of original architecture and parks, one realizes it was a place built by those philanthropists and first industrialists who had a grandiose vision to leave behind a city that would last for all times---as well as a place people could be proud to call home. The blog below is one of the finest I have encountered of stories about “All Things Cleveland“ which is what it is called. If you plan a visit here, this blog can be very informative!


http://allthingsclevelandohio.blogspot.com/

Saturday, October 25, 2008

CLEVELAND AREA VEGETARIAN CHOICE RESTAURANTS!

Here is an older list, from a blog I found, of vegetarian restaurants. There are a couple numbers out of service, but I do now know if it means the establishment is gone. As I wrote about in an earlier post, Greater Clevelanders and people in North East Ohio need to be offered more of a choice for such food---and need to be shown that vegetarian is not just a few lettuce leaves and a tomato as is the common misconception. I feel sorry for those who actually have such a limited and narrow scoped mindset about what is really a cuisine and art of cooking all unto itself! Anyway, check out the list below and if you have a suggestion of a new place to add, drop me a line!


http://yeahthatveganshit.blogspot.com/2006/08/best-vegan-friendly-restaurants-in.html

Sunday, October 19, 2008

NOISE POLLUTION-GREAT TOPIC FOR RADIO SHOW

I have been doing all I can to generate attention to a very under-recognized form of environmental pollution; noise! Excessive noise impacts our communities in more negative ways than you may realize: Economically, environmentally, socially---and it also affects personal health and safety. Lately, I have written a letter to a local community radio station in the hope that the topic will be covered.

Our country faces a national growing plague of 'audio-terrorism' that is robbing people everywhere of their personal right to peace in their own home, or even something as simple a good night's rest.

Sadly, a lot of the noise we have to endure these days at the neighborhood level stems from individuals who do not seem to know the meaning of exercising common sense and manners in a communal setting---and also seem to feel it is their "right" to make as much noise as they want---under the guise of "freedom". But at the same time, these individuals are forgetting the fact that when someone does not exercise responsibility with their "rights" then their "rights" are no longer a right--and that no one has the right to impose their personal self indulgence upon others without their conc=sent. The old saying sums it up: "Your "rights" end where mine begin!"

Lastly, I wonder who will pay the price of the physical damages noise can do to a body--when the damages become a physical disability. What are your thoughts. Review some of the material below and get informed about noise pollution.

Here is my letter to a local radio station to promote the noise topic as a possible idea for a show topic.


Dear WNIR,

I have a show idea. Excessive NOISE POLLUTION! I am a representative of a national group that deals with excessive noise pollution problems and their under-recognized negative impacts on our community---socially, economically, environmentally...AND on our personal physical health and safety in so many ways. I am confident once you review the material, you may want to consider this a topic for a show in the near future.

Here is a public radio station that did a show on such. Click where it says "listen to the show"

http://www.wfpl.org/CMS/?p=2395



Also, here is a You Tube video about a specific growing noise problem from boomcars, which has communities across the nation re-writing the ordinances to deal with this very in-your-face and physically damaging form of noise.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPKpQAUL4B8



Please review the material and get back to me. Lastly, for more information on the topic, see www.noiseoff.org or www.lowertheboom.org

Regards,
Robert Carillio

Thursday, October 9, 2008

SAY NO TO OHIO ISSUE SIX GAMBLING!

I oppose issue six for several reasons. Before going into a few reasons why it is nothing more than a con to benefit one casino operator, I want to talk a bit about the twisted philosophy we are buying into these days when it comes to curing economic woes---and who we chose to rely on to pull us out of them!

Perhaps it is time people in Ohio stop making 'deals with the joker' in attempts to cure economic/social problems or generate better business.

Let's look at a few examples:

* Schools---stop making deals with the junk food industry thinking you are going to get revenue from, say, vending machines--because the dollar amount the junk food industry yanks from you versus what you keep is not worth it the resulting growing number of obese kids we are helping to produce who could one day place a big strain on health care costs!

* Bar owners who complain about no smoking laws.... Pssst... Stop thinking you have to rely on tobacco to drive your business. Alternatively, develop a new vision or philosophy as to how you can generate more business. Shouldn't the food, drink, or atmosphere be the cornerstone attraction? Is it worth ruining your interior with smoke and making people sicker?

* Now we have bought on to yet another vice driven revenue rescue source...gambling as the panacea to cure all social/economic woes. If the best Ohio can do for economic development is to nurture the 'bad' under the belief that it will ultimately do good, then this is a sick and twisted cultural mentality that needs to be re-evaluated and perhaps changed! It is a mentality as sick as a gambling addiction. Only those in the treatment industry thrive from such a philosophy--and the vast majority of people do not.

None of the above helps to foster a healthy body that will be competitive in today's economy, so who can begin to measure the revenue losses that come from a physically and mentally sick people?--which we are--and growing! Again, only those in the treatment industry gain. What about the rest of us?

Continuing further, lets look at some of the technicals why issue 6 should be opposed. For starters, some of the language suggests that some revenue will help those addicted to gambling. Ok, Let's use gambling to help the gambling addicted. That’s like selling cigarettes to pay for lung cancer research!


Next, if you read through the issue authored by the gaming industry, there are simply too many loopholes that could result in the casino paying absolutely NOTHING to the state because the language states that the casino would pay "up to" x amount of revenue. "Up to" could mean nothing. The gaming industry is in business for one reason--PROFIT...NOT charity. other language in section 6 of the issue reads as follows: (d)The remaining gross casino receipts taxes collected shall be distributed as follows: ten percent (10%) to the county in which the casino is located and ninety (90%) to be distributed on a per capita basis among all 88 counties in Ohio, such funds to be deposited into the general fund of each county and spent at each county's discretion. Where is the accountability here?




I hope Ohioans will remember even just these two examples of language in the proposed amendment that has unaccountability written all over it when they vote. The question is…Are we really going to generate revenue for the state? If so, at WHAT COST???



Sure, several other states have jumped on the casino bandwagon and it may seem like the latest thing to do BUT---If everyone is playing monkey see monkey do, why would Ohio be so different or special enough to attract tourists in drones? A casino? Its just like another Wal-Mart or Walgreens on the corner; nothing special! Are we going to become a destination place like Vegas where people travel to gamble, many of whom actually have some money to blow...or, do we become the gaming industry's patsy? The answer is probably the latter.

The gaming industry cannot wait to get its hands on Ohio for several reasons, one such reason is because they know many areas in Ohio are economically depressed---and what can often accompany such depression? You guessed it...Drinking and gambling! Stage set...A great place to help nurture a bad habit tinder box and profit at the same time. Some people would even be prone to spending government help money on gaming!

Ohio can be progressive and unique---and say no to the casino rave--and instead spend the money developing and investing in real jobs and fostering a quality workforce, create high tech family sustaining jobs, green jobs--and maybe a green economy to carry us long into the future--and not develop economies that prey upon and make worse already ill social scenes. Contrary to popular myth, casinos will NOT produce the kind of jobs we need in Ohio for its long term success--instead, produced will be many dead end, low paying service oriented jobs already plentiful. The gambling promoters are like opportunistic vultures waiting to swoop down and feast on the weak and dying--and in a time Ohio is weak, they are opportunists. You can do better than follow the gambling band wagon, Ohio.

P.S. On one last footnote: If you read through the constitutional amendment, the proposal basically sets up a monopoly for an out of state casino operator and also leaves little accountability to assure criminals are not employed or involved with the operation of such an establishment. There are simply way too many loopholes in the proposed amendment. Leave the state constitution alone.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Habitat Of Cleveland Area -- And Ohio Streams


The text below was featured on an aquatic habitat exhibit I designed featured in the Hocking Hills State Park Visitors Center. The following describes the habitat and functions--and some of it's animals.

The next time you see, a fallen tree of log-jam in the river and think it looks untidy---Think again because there is a purpose to be served! The aquatic habitat simulated in this display represents aquatic habitats found near the banks of a typical Ohio river or stream--often on the ‘inside’ of a ‘bend’ in the river. They are called “Pool Habitats”

The tree roots you see stretching out of the banks aid in the stabilization of riverbank soils naturally preventing erosion. Above the water’s surface, limbs from these same trees provide shade along the riverbank. This shade keeps the water from becoming too warm during summer months. Too high of water temperatures could rob the river's water of much needed oxygen.

Leaves falling into the river from the trees provide food for aquatic creatures such as crayfish and aquatic insects which in turn become food for fish or birds! Leaf litter and woody debris settling on the river’s bottom offers refuge for small fish. This environment will then attract the larger fish like Smallmouth Bass, which are sought by anglers. Additionally, habitats like these often provide the best fishing. Can you find the leaf litter and woody debris in this display? Rivers with banks heavily forested with trees such as Cottonwood and Sycamore usually have the highest water quality.

Species of fish which may be found in pool habitats are various types of minnows including Southern Redbelly Dace, Common and Stripped Shiners, Creek Chub, Bluntnose Minnow, and Sand Shiners. Darters and Sculpins are other types of fish that often vacate the riffle areas of streams and rivers to seek calmer waters in the pool habitat. Larger species visiting the pool habitat include Bullhead Catfish, Pumpkinseed Sunfish, and Largemouth Bass. Pictured below are a few types of the fish mentioned above, that frequent the pool habitat. How many can you find in the aquarium?

Photo: Ohio Stream Rainbow Darter "Cleveland's most colorful fish!"

Monday, September 29, 2008

BAILOUT BAD BUSINESS!

My previous advertisement has me compelled to expand on the idea of a federal bail out of the lending industry by sharing some further opinions.


“The sky is falling…..The sky is falling!!!”….. “London Bridge is falling down!!!”….Indeed, these little old childhood catch phrases can certainly apply to what is happening in the current financial and real estate market! What a reeling scenario we are witnessing in the news. Lenders have often loaned when they should not have loaned, and lendees have borrowed and over extended themselves!

Lenders lending out of greed, not altruism, to collect commissions and on outlandish interest rates---And known weak credit worthy borrowers who have run into their fair share of troubles in the current economy, such as job loss, has now resulted in the financial industry begging for a 700 plus billion dollar bail out! This, on top of what we are spending on a war which is causing this country to go broke!

Most people cannot even fathom just how much 700 billion dollars is. Let’s place it into perspective. According to various estimates which can be found on the web, if we looked at the number 700 billion in seconds, that puts us back to a time in history when humans were first migrating into the America’s via the Bering Land Bridge some 22,000 plus years ago!

Personally, I do not feel that the financial institutions should be totally bailed out for their irresponsible lending practices greatly contributing to creating the current mess. How can a bail out help stabilize the economy when this ‘bailout’ is money that will be taken from already financially struggling taxpayers. For too long, we have been living in a ‘false economy’---one which appears like all is healthy and people are buying, and owning---but in reality, nothing is really paid for, and all that is being bought is being bought on credit. Now, even the lenders have over extended lending money that really wasn’t there in the first place…and if they are bailed out by the US tax payer, it is not only corporate welfare, but it is also levying a tax burden on generations to come. The current estimate to pay for a bail out is $2,000 plus for every man, woman and child in the US. Hmmmm… ALL would have to contribute but the last time I checked, babies weren’t working good paying jobs!

We are warned that if the financial institutions are not bailed out, then indeed, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, the sky will fall, the bridge will collapse and the economy will sink even further in the river below. Maybe it should. Maybe this will teach the mega corporations a lesson---like people who file bankruptcy learn a lesson---that sooner or later the buck stops and we all have to act with responsibility when spending or lending! If I handed out a blank check to strangers on the pretense they’ll pay it back and they don’t, do you think I’d get bailed out by anyone? Probably not. So, if the corporations want to be viewed as ’individuals’ as is part of their PR agenda and as they are given the same constitutional rights as individuals, then why should they be bailed out so easily by the public without consequence?

Alternatively, if we really want to help the economy and the people, then for those who are worthy and showing they‘re really trying to avoid debt problems, let’s clean their credit records and cut the debt in half with no interest or penalties and let the lenders bare the brunt of the loss so that just maybe, more people would have some extra money to keep their homes, fix them up and spend a little money back into the economy! This is better than having neighborhoods become abandoned crime magnets! On another note, a lending industry desperately whining for help should not be able to have their cake and eat it too by collecting high interest rates and penalties from those already in insurmountable financial trouble! A truly wise and progressive society would see the insanity of bailing out such interests with federal monies from the taxpaying public!

Lastly, for too long, the lending industry's larger profits have depended upon people remaining in debt and not paying it down---so, perhaps it is time they fashion a different way and embody a different vision as to how they will profit in the future--one where people, will actually pay off debts and really own something free and clear! Hey! I have an idea...instead of giving blank checks to big lenders so they can do whatever they want with it and continue irresponsible lending practices.... Why not give it right back to the people so they can pay off their bills or spend it back into the economy? Of course, there'd have to be stipulations, but think about the possibilities!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

You Can Bet, There Will Be Debt!

“The sky is falling…..The sky is falling!!!”….. “London Bridge is falling down!!!”….Indeed, these little old childhood catch phrases can certainly apply to what is happening in the current financial and real estate market! What a reeling scenario we are witnessing in the news. Lenders have often loaned when they should not have loaned, and lendees have borrowed and over extended themselves!

Compounding the above problem, the financial industry is begging for a 700 plus billion dollar bail out! Most people cannot even fathom just how much 700 billion dollars is. Let’s place it into perspective. According to various estimates which can be found on the web, if we looked at the number 700 billion in seconds, that puts us back to a time in history when humans were first migrating into the America’s via the Bering Land Bridge some 22,000 plus years ago!

So with both lenders and real estate markets, and borrowers in dire straits these days it only stands to reason that there is going to be another need for financial help for individuals again! What a cycle---BUT, on a personal level, one sure way to avoid current and future debt trouble is by not over spending on any products or services you may not need---and by consolidating current debt into one easy low interest payment. By doing so, you can pay your debt off before making any new unnecessary purchases. Read more about consumer debt.

If you are experiencing insurmountable debt problems, you may want to consider credit counseling--and at Care One, you can find a host of high quality debt management agencies that can offer debt help, making getting out of debt just as easy as it can be to get into debt in the first place! There is no feeling like being debt free and with expert financial advice, this dream can become a reality!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We Need More Exclusive Vegetarian Restaurants In The USA

If we are living in the country of such great choice, then why aren't their many more vegetarian restaurants to choose from? Sure they exist in pocket areas all over the USA, more in some places than others, but compared to the meat choices, there is hardly a sample of vegetarian restaurants from which to choose!

I am convinced that in the Cleveland/Akron/Youngstown Tri-Metropolitan Region, that although there are a myriad of fine restaurants that offer a wide variety of vegetarian foods, those establishments which offer exclusive vegetarian or vegan menus are still limited in numbers. It is sad because contrary to popular conception, not everyone eats or wants to always eat meat and fried foods.

In my honest opinion, I feel most people who have the conception that a vegetarian or vegan diet is limited, are believing something that is actually the opposite of what is true----and indeed lacking knowledge about the diverseness of these diets---and in the end limiting themselves from a cornucopia of amazing fresh foods, creativity, and a variety and flavors!

Add to that, swallowing a diet of what has been preached to the public for years by the beef and dairy industries limits one’s mindset to consider any other alternative diet---one that just may help reduce the obscene obesity plague in the US. Below are a few of my local favorite places which offer some great vegetarian or vegan foods! I hope you will like them as well.

Without a doubt, this country needs to adopt a healthier choice of diet if we are going to be well enough to compete in the future world economy. The restaurants listed below are such a refreshing change of pace to the chain eateries as well and you will be helping to support locally owned/operated businesses. A well planned vegan diet is the best thing we can do for the environment too. That’s another story, another day!



The Flaming Ice Cube --Youngstown (Boardman) http://www.flamingice.com/

The Flying Fig -- Cleveland (Ohio City Neighborhood -- Some great vegetarian choices, ingredients support local farms) http://www.theflyingfig.com/index2.html

Vegiterranean - Akron, the best! Opened by Chrissy Hynde (Pretenders Rock Band from Akron) http://www.thevegiterranean.com/

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cleveland Flats Better Off A Living Neighborhood


Years ago I knew that if the Flats Entertainment District in Cleveland was going to be a long term success, future plans would have to focus more on transforming this area near the Cuyahoga River into an actual neighborhood, rather than it continuing to cater to the party and drinking crowd only. It had to be more than a place where college kids party, get drunk, throw up on your pants, and leave the place trashed.

Instead, the Flats needed to become a progressive urban neighborhood with all essential living needs such as farm and food market, public transit, bike path, post office and bank, park and green space, workspace, entertainment----and of course a place to stay and call it home after working or entertainment hours. This way, stakeholders remain and treat it as a neighborhood where they have a financial vested interest, which they will. I predicted the “partying only” Flats theme would come to a dead halt one day when we all grew up…and it did.

Thankfully, the redevelopment of this 20 plus acre area along the east bank of the river, is now transforming into what I had always envisioned it should be, as described above, with the new Flats East Bank Neighborhood now under development. Utilizing brown fields and already developed areas of land, as opposed to sprawling upon open green space can be a much more environmentally sustainable way to develop as well as a way to keep the urban activity near the hub where it should be. Check out the link below to see what is coming in the Flats soon!


http://www.flatseast.com/



Photo: From the west bank looking to the east bank of The Flats

Monday, September 8, 2008

Renovating Cleveland Trust Tower Complex

Can you imagine downtown Cleveland without the theater district, the warehouse district, or other cultural arts and historic entertainment venues? Neither can I. I also cannot imagine why any rational well thought opinion would advocate the demolition of renowned architect Marcel Breuer’s 1971 downtown structure most commonly known as the Trust Tower---just because of a common opinion that the building is “ugly“.

Hmmm…glad we don’t do away with every person we had that opinion about! Appreciating architecture is not only about whether we think a particular work is acceptable to the eye. More intrinsically, it is about appreciating styles that were reflective of the moods and cultural or social times of any given area in a certain place of time in history. Since it seems so conveniently forgotten that at one time, many fine historic buildings, “ugly” or not, in both the Warehouse and Theater District, were at one time threatened by the wrecking ball--should I offer a reminder of what would downtown be without those great assets?

The same “out with the old and in with the new” mentality had recently threatened the Trust Tower when the county purchased the property for their new headquarters and then later concluded the building complex was unsuitable---and was exploring the option of demolition. This is one of those structures that like perhaps the Warehouse District or Theater District, may to many seem not worth saving right now---but in the long run if it was demolished, would be a regret to the City of Cleveland. Not knowing what you had until you lost it cannot be changed in the case of the Trust Tower because it just so happens that it is an example of a type of architecture known as “Brutalism” that is becoming a rare and endangered species these days.

The Trust Tower is a structure that represents a modernist style yet offers a natural look with its earth toned honey combed facades around the windows. It is perfectly juxtaposed with the classic historic rotunda building in the front, which offers two examples of two time periods on one corner! Preserving this rare example will be reason enough that in the future, will draw it much positive focus. In addition, Cleveland will be opting to do the more environmentally conscious alternative by keeping 400 plus feet high demolition out of landfills--and also allow for the implementation of progressive adaptive reuse plans for the complex.

No need to talk about demolition anymore because since the county lacked the financial resources to see through their much maligned and wasteful plan for such, a local development company bought the complex and is going to do just what should be done, and that is--to renovate the complex and make it a mixed use facility of office, retail, housing, and arts. I am impressed with the plans and hope the management of the complex thereafter meets the needs for it’s upkeep. I am glad to know that this story won’t turn out to be one of regretting what we’ve lost.. I hope that it turns out to e a story of having us not being able to imagine this downtown corner without it---much like we cannot imagine it without Playhouse Square or the Warehouse District. I hope the new interpretation of this complex renovated will have more people discovering a new appreciation for it.


On a side note and very personal opinion….

No, The Trust Tower Complex is not the classic works of art in Rome or Paris, but maybe even some of their greats weren’t considered to be at one time---but it is good those countries had the foresight to preserve their architecture to discover that one day they would be classics! I am not saying every building built is destined to be a classic at one time or another, but The Trust Tower, in our infancy of a country, does in fact represent an important moment in a truly definitive and world changing time---a mood, a style, a political scene…and perhaps can symbolize important events of the past at that particular time which we can learn something valuable from.

It seems we tear down too much of our best architectural history in this country today , forgetting our past, and helping to foster a mentality that carries an attitude that suggests “history starts here..now..and with us” ….leaving mostly big box stores as our most plentiful architecturally bland claim to fame! I am sure we’ll get tourists flocking here by the thousands some day to see places like that! (only if you need to save 5 cents on underwear!) Indeed, architecture reminds us of history--something we need to learn more of these days so we won’t repeat mistakes of the past--and tearing down the Trust Tower would have eventually become one of those mistakes of the past.

Click on the link below to read more about the renovation of this complex and to see a visual tour of what it will look like.



http://www.cleveland.com/arts/index.ssf/2008/07/_a_cleveland_architecture_firm.html

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Reserve Your Vacation Honolulu Condos!

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"GOING GREEN" DOES NOT MEAN KEEPING THE LAWN GREEN YEAR 'ROUND!

The following letter sent to a Cleveland City Councilman:

Dear Councilman,

As I am aware of the new "going green" efforts of Cleveland and other cities, I am amazed at the contradiction to this agenda in the simplest way as walk Cleveland and witness the uses of commercial lawn chemicals on public lawns. "Going Green" does not mean wasting resources (water, oil, etc) on efforts to keep a lawn un-naturally green all year 'round with petro-based chemicals all containing long time known carcinogens according to EPA data.

Cities like Toronto, Buffalo, Minneapolis and others--as well as a host of countries throughout the world, have banned such toxins for mere cosmetic uses in their communities because of the health risks they pose to people and water resources. It is really disturbing that currently, we are applying more of such chemicals to lawns than on crops!

Cleveland cannot be "green" and continue the uses of these unnecessary products. Please consider the many harmless alternatives. Below is an article I wrote about these products on my website. The information is valid should you want to research it. It is scary enough to see the public abusing these products, let alone the city, which should be setting a much more progressive alternative example. This would stimulate the creation of more jobs in the area of environmentally friendly landscaping alternatives--and their ARE alternatives to Cleveland jumping on the outdated band wagon of using lawn chemicals.

Ohio City-Cleveland Resident

Friday, September 5, 2008

MAKE YOUR INTERNATIONAL MOVE EASY!

A relocation overseas is not as simple as moving down the street or to the next county….It can present a scenario of feeling as though you just don‘t know where to begin….But when you visit International Movers Dot Com, that overseas move will seem as easy as moving down the street! At International Movers Dot Com, you’ll be matched with professional long distance moving services to help make your move run as smoothly as possible, so you can concentrate on getting adjusted to things like your new job…or finding your way around the new neighborhood! We take the worry out of a moving overseas so you can relax! From relocating yourself, your car, your, furniture--or life’s personal belongings--with International Movers Dot Com, you’ve made the right move!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cleveland Needs World Class Public Aquarium



Cleveland has long been in need of a world class attraction that would sever the often perceived image as just a sports, blue collar, and party town--to one of more cultural and world class influences. Sure, we have the fine museums, hospitals, zoo, theaters, metro-parks, and such---but one complimentary element that is missing, that could be the crown jewel of these attractions and a draw to the waterfront, would be a new state of the art world class public aquarium.

Aside from being a fun and awe-inspiring visual attraction, such a facility would raise much needed public environmental education and attention about not only the significance of our own Great Lakes Region---and how the way we live impacts it….. and ultimately us, but will demonstrate the same about aquatic eco-systems of the entire planet!

Below is a website which outlines the whole project. Please show your support for this project by passing around this information and sending letters of support to the site and to your local elected representatives.


http://www.clevelandaquarium.org/


Photos: Lake Erie Sunset and Harbor/Downtown