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

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hot Chocolate and The Mayans


No, the title above is not paying tribute to the latest band....

I have recently been reading a lot about the ancient indigenous peoples of the Americas! From North, Central to South, the native peoples of these lands have contributed more to the modern day world than one might lend them credit for. In Anthropologist Jack Weathorford’s book, INDIAN GIVERS, so many of these contributions are revealed--- And in the case of food in the modern world, some 60%, has had Native American origin. One such food happens to be a favorite of almost everyone, and that is, Chocolate!

The chocolate confection the world enjoys today finds its roots in Central America’s Mayan culture. The Mayan culture, much like the Mound Building cultures of North America, is truly one of the world’s most under-explored fascinating ones! Their much savored chocolate beverage’s main ingredient comes from the cacao plant‘s fruit, ‘cacao‘--a much prized and traded commodity in the ancient Mayan world.

The Mayans made the first ‘hot chocolate drink’ -- a thick and bitter/spicy beverage--made from the crushed dried roasted beans of the fruit of the cacao plant--by adding water, vanilla, cinnamon, chilies and other flavorings. This beverage was usually consumed for reasons such as “rites of passage-birth, marriage, induction into the priesthood and even entry into the afterlife” according to an article in National Geographic Magazine’s special collectors edition (August ‘08) showcasing the Mayan culture

After I read this edition, I searched the internet for a recipe that would as closely as possible mimic this first chocolate drink consumed by the Mayans. There were several bits of information about this drink available.....and then I suddenly stumbled across the recipe in the link I will include below on this page. There is so much to learn about Indigenous peoples of the America’s cultures like the Mayan’s besides chocolate alone! So, as you learn, you may want to take a break and gather up the ingredients for their sacred drink---and enjoy it as they did! I tried this recipe and it is wonderful!


http://www.kstrom.net/isk/food/r_choc.html



Illustration: Mayan Jade Mask-Pencil Drawing by R.S.C.