Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Amusing Anecdote

I mentioned the Sylvania Diner in this post and was reminded of an incident involving my younger brother Shotgun Bob, who is about ten years younger than I am (now how do you think that happened?), and the head chef and owner of the Sylvania Diner. Any of you men out there who have a younger brother should empathize with my position in this situation immediately; to any who don't, this is typical.

Bob and I used to eat at the Sylvania Diner every once in a while, mainly because we were hungry, we wanted breakfast and it was close and easy to find. Let me enlighten all those reading this who don't know: When you've been drinking heavily all night and want coffee in the morning followed by some food, the very last thing you need is to drive around looking for a place that's open, serving breakfast and not filled cheek to jowl with noisy humanity. The Sylvania Diner fulfills these requirements, and since it featured a large smoking section the soccer moms and dads would cart their tribe of chimpanzees to a different zoo where they could throw food pellets and dispense merry hell to a more tolerant crowd.

One particular morning when Shotgun Bob and I were at the diner Bob's hash brown potatoes were undercooked, causing him to flag down the waitress and send them back, telling her to "Just put Chef Torch on it; he'll get 'em cooked!" The waitress laughed and that was that. You'd think so, anyway.

About a month later I stopped in for breakfast and noticed that the cook was glaring at me through the order window. Well, maybe he was having a bad day. The service was good and the food wasn't any better or worse than usual. Then I had a week where I ate breakfast out about every other day, and since the Sylvania Diner was close and free of soccer families, I'd choose it over everything else. Every time I went in there, the cook glared at me like he wanted to throw a skillet at me. I stopped going for a while, but then I came back. After all, it could be my imagination, right? So I'd come back in and suffer the cook's dirty looks. The waitresses were so nice to me and happy to see me I figured what the hell, right? When you're a beat half to death fifty something it doesn't hurt your feelings to have a cute young waitress smile at you and bring you your coffee before she waits on a bunch of other guys. Am I right? This went on for months.

Then one day the waitress giggled and told me that Chef Torch wasn't working this morning, but that she would see to it my hash browns were cooked thoroughly. Chef Torch? I laughed. What's this deal?

"Oh, sure - Chef Torch. All the girls started calling him that ever since you started it with the hash browns. Especially when he gets on our case about something."

Okay, wait up here. Since I started it? Me? I didn't bother to deny it. What's the point? The damage was already done and the real miracle is that I didn't find some ground glass in my scrambled eggs. Likely the waitresses have been looking out for me. I tend to leave generous tips, and did so that day.

I called Shotgun Bob and explained what was going on. Bob laughed until he choked.

"Chef Torch! I love it! Who would have thought they'd remember something like that." Bob started laughing again.

"Yeah, that's a real howl alright. What if that guy had poisoned me or something?" I asked.

"Oh, well, good old Chef Torch wouldn't do anything like that. Chef Torch! What a scream! And you say the girls call him that?"

Yep, they did alright. The poor man remained Chef Torch right up until he sold the place. The new owners remodeled it and changed the menu around. Clearly the cooking has improved, but somehow eating there just isn't as much fun as it used to be.

Flower Photos

Here are a few pictures from Main Lady's back yard and the immediate neighborhood. These lilies are growing in the neighbor's yard and are an unusual color.

Pink Lilies

Pink Lily

I may see about getting a few of these for Main Lady, as she admired them greatly. She has literally dozens of these tiger lilies in her yard which I've always admired.

Tiger Lily

Yellow Tiger Lily

Many of these were planted by Main Lady's three little darlings, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail. They were out in the yard last October trying to break up the barely thawed ground. When the shovel failed I suggested a mattock or pick axe, but none of the ladies knew what a mattock was and a pick axe sounded too aggressive. As an alternative I suggested they try dynamite.

Red Flowers

I like the red flowers best, mainly because red things go faster. This hanging basket is conclusive proof of that, as it has grown tremendously since Main Lady hung it.

Hanging Flowers

Someone told me what these flowers were called, but naturally I can't remember. I think that my memory is failing as I get older. I'm not really troubled by this, as there are any number of things I'd rather not remember.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

License Plates

Some years ago I got a custom license plate during a Chinese gift exchange. I intended the plate for Shotgun Bob, but for some reason he traded it to me for a set of loaded dice dangling from a string of used Mardi Gras beads or some such. So, here it is:

I bought this at a flea market in Jacksonville, Florida. The motto, Roll the Bones, refers to a story written by Fritz Lieber which you can read here if you like. I enjoyed the ending of the story:

Then he turned and headed straight for home, but he took the long way, around the world.
From Gonna Roll the Bones by Fritz Leiber, 1967.

Having survived a supernatural ordeal perpetrated on him by his disparaging, pestiferous wife and overbearing mother, the protagonist both fulfills his duty to return to home and hearth from a night on the town while at the same time giving himself a life filled with strife of his own making; a considerable victory.

My license plate has caused a good deal of commentary. One neighbor from my home in Florida noted the tag and decided the car belonged to a young black man; he was quite startled when he discovered the real owner of the car - an old white man who showed clear evidence of being rode hard and put away wet too many times.  Another time I was interviewing for a job in Kalamazoo, Michigan and my prospective employer asked me if I gambled. His tone showed his disapproval, but given his personality I wouldn't have worked for him anyway. His achievements were significant and included building a successful company from the ground up, but his was somewhat obsessive as evidenced by his office, one wall of which was filled with statuettes of roosters.  There must have been well over one hundred on the wall opposite his desk.

As Seen on Sunday Morning: June 27, 2010

Some time ago I bought a pocket size digital camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4, FM8BA007171. I have yet to understand all of its features, but I'm working on it. The idea was that the camera would be small enough for me to carry with me and take pictures of the things I see as I stumble and weave about the obstacles, snares and small animal traps that I discover (one way or another) in the journey of life as I know it.

I went out to have breakfast at the Sylvania Diner and discovered this antique car in the parking lot. I've always admired the people who could keep an antique running, although I kind of wonder how much a person can really drive a car this old.

I don't know the make or model of this car, but I note that it has no trunk as we would expect in a modern automobile. I'm told that's where the term 'trunk' comes from, that it was literally a trunk attached to the rear of the car.

What ever kind of car it is I note that spare water is carried on the running board. I suspect the cooling system may not be all that reliable.

Here's the interior. Note the absence of digital controls and idiot lights (as we used to refer to them). Having grown up in the 1960s on a horse farm, I knew what oil pressure and engine temperature were before I was allowed to operate the tractor. I also learned that you didn't ride the clutch, and I learned it without burning a clutch in the process. Some of us learn by listening...

For what ever reason, this car is equipped with a trailer hitch, which might explain the spare water. I don't think you could tow much of a trailer behind this car, but I do know that towing something might cause the engine to overheat.

This is a nice set of wheels, and if anyone knows the make and model please don't hesitate to sound off.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Day at the Range: Saturday, May 29, 2010

My brother Big Mike and I went out to the Bullet Stop to exercise our Second Amendment rights, followed by civilized drinking at the Maumee Bay Brewing Company, and a good time was had by all. I intended to post this earlier but somehow I got sidetracked.

I took my S&W 9mm, which I've been trying to practice with regularly. I like the Smith for the double action feature and the hi-cap magazine; what I don't like is the nasty snap I get when I torch one off.

S&W 9mm

Although I can barely see the target, I seem to be doing a fairly good job of perforating it. I call this 'instinct shooting' and may write a book detailing just how this happens and how anyone with poor eyesight can accomplish the same or better results. Here's what the target looks like to me:
Target at 1000 Yards

Well, it seemed like a thousand yards. Here are the results:
Perforated Target

The tear at the top is where I flinched and hit the dingus that you clamp the target onto. No, I didn't do that on purpose. The real reason I wrote about this visit at all was the young fellow at the lane next to us; in fact, the only other person on the range. He was shooting an FNH 5-7 handgun (Fabrique Nationale Herstal  Five-seveN handgun).
FN Five-seveN

This beauty has a 20 round magazine and fires the 5.7x28mm cartridge which has a velocity of about 2200 fps when used in the pistol, about 2600 fps in the carbine. This is one hot little round.

.22 Long Rifle, 5.7x28mm, .45 ACP

Here are three common calibers by way of comparison. Note the diameter of the .22 next to the 5.7 bullet. The .45 ACP is about 230 grains, a standard .45 load. The owner was a law enforcement officer who had just been sworn in and was practicing with his carry pistol. He was kind enough to let Mike and I try a few shots, which is significant when you consider that the ammo is around $1 a shot.

The thing about the 5.7 is that there is no recoil to it. I detected less recoil than a .22 auto-loader and Mike had the same experience. If a person learned how to shoot it, anyone could easily hold the pistol right on target and hammer one round after another just as fast as you could pull the trigger.

I told the young officer that I hoped he never got into a gun fight, but if he did my money was on him. He's clearly got the edge.

After that, Mike and I repaired to The Maumee Bay Brewing Company for some much needed beer research.
Beer Menu

I selected the Brewedwitch Barleywine, a choice I'd recommend to all.

Here's How!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Prize

A little while back I entered a contest I'd found on line. I did this on a whim, not expecting much of anything except an increase in spam. Some days later I was roused from the alcohol induced torpor by an email announcing I was the grand prize winner. After some perfunctory investigation I blogged about it here.  My winning answer, should it matter to anyone, was an explanation for the origin of the word sheriff.
Origin of the term sheriff: About 1000 (or a little less) years ago back in Jolly Old and vicinity (Scotland, for instance) His Majesty concluded that it was dashed inconvenient for Himself to be everywhere at once, and so needed some good, stouthearted men of high moral character to run things for Him and handle mundane events. The area was divided into shires, which are like the counties in the United States. The man selected for the job was called a reeve. The term shire reeve was eventually shortened to sheriff. 
So today I received this via United Parcel Service:
USB Flash Drive

I only anticipated one, but three arrived. These are one gigabyte USB flash drives. You unscrew the nose of the bullet to reveal the USB plug. The coolness factor is off the scale, and I am one very happy elderly curmudgeon.

Sadly, Kindergarten Cop's blog site has been closed due to official pressure from The Powers That Be, including the village idiot school principal who didn't like Kindergarten Cop's commentary describing what really went on inside a public school. This is a clear violation of the author's first amendment rights, but pursuing a case against the city would tie up a staff of ACLU lawyers and cost several hundred pounds of c-notes. That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see it happen; it's just not practical right now, and it won't be until one of us wins the lottery.

Anyway, I intend to enjoy my USB drives. I hope I can land a contract somewhere on the East coast and give a bunch of moonbat gun hating cubical mushrooms a heart attack when I back up a few personal files on my USB drive.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


That lovable old vitriolic curmudgeon Fred Reed published yet another insightful diatribe against a small segment of humanity.  As usual, Fred has blearily managed to score a bull's eye.  Maybe a little heavier on the bull than the eye, but so what?  We're trying to drink here!

Fred offers an astute insight into the talking heads in and around the beltway, and you can read about it by clicking here.  It's an easy read, but it raised a few questions for me.

In particular, Fred states that while people in the upper ten percent IQ range are able to learn anything they like by self-teaching, the other 90% are unable to learn a subject this way; that is by buying a stack of books on the subject and sitting down to learn it.  From Fred's essay:
Denizens of this class know that if they decided to learn, say, classical Greek, they could. You get the book and go at it. It would take work, yes, and time, but the outcome would be certain.
Do you think Fred's right? If you measure the IQ range of US adults you'll come up with a bell curve.  Take a healthy slice out of the middle of the bell - say, 60% or so - and you have the average Joe.  Is our man Joe capable of going down to Barnes & Noble, buying a half-dozen or so books on a given subject and learning it? Is Joe's outcome certain success?

Fred continues and points out the flaw in the old Social Security privatization argument, but he ties it to the intellectual abilities of Average Joe.  From Fred's article:
The commentators are smart enough to invest money. I’ll guess that at least half the population isn’t.
Again, do you think Fred's right?

I don't have an answer to my first question, so I'm soliciting a few opinions.  As to the second question (investments) I have my own opinion on that, but I'm curious as to what other people think.  I'll write my own thoughts out later on.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lucas County Government

Well, they're at it again.  I think they have too much free time on their hands.  The Lucas county commissioners have officially resolved to oppose Arizona's State law SB 1070 (click here for an official copy of the resolution).  Maggie Thurber blogged about it here and raised a few good points.

Briefly, from someone who has read the law but who is not a lawyer, the law states that if a policeman arrests someone for a misdemeanor the policeman can demand that the detainee (that's legalese for the alleged scumbag who has been allegedly busted) prove that he, she or other is in the United States legally.  That's it.  Somehow, according to our three elected county commissioners Pete Gerken, Tina Skeldon Wozniak and Ben Konop, this law amounts to an infringement on our civil rights.  In particular they claim SB 1070 violates the 14th amendment.  It doesn't, but that's another matter.

Gerken, Konop and Wozniak can sit in their plush offices at One Government Center and cry about civil rights all they like, and I could not possibly care less.  When they decided to use their office as a bully pulpit to express their opinion they crossed the line.  By writing this resolution and making it official, the commissioners have stated that their opinion is my opinion as well, and that is an authority that no elected official should have.  One, because they can't know my feelings on the law, two because not everyone in Lucas county opposes SB 1070 and three because SB 1070 does not affect the residents of Lucas county.

The arrogance displayed by these three angers me, but I'm not surprised by their attitude.  Between the three of them they have the hubris of medieval royalty, the vanity of a television evangelist and the narcissism of a rap star.  The three would-be County Czars are making their official resolution known to the powers that be:
Section 2. A certified copy of this resolution will be sent to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and President Barack Obama, Senator George Voinovich, Senator Sherrod Brown, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, and Congressman Robert Latta as the federal representatives for Lucas County.
Which led me to suggest that we, the poor and underprivileged mere civilians, do the same.  Now realistically, writing to The Anointed One will gain you little more than a cursory investigation by the Secret Service and your missive will be delegated to a place of honor in the nearest landfill, but a handwritten letter to Governor Jan Brewer in support of SB 1070 might cheer her up a little.  As for the others, who knows.  It's likely none of them will ever read a letter from anyone reading this blog, but I suppose you never know for sure.  If nothing else you'll be helping to keep a U.S. Post Office delivery person employed.

So to make life easier, here's a list of people to write to.  Remember that neatness counts, as does spelling, punctuation and politeness.

Pete Gerken, President
Tina Skeldon Wozniak, Commissioner
Ben Konop, Commissioner
One Government Center
Suite 800
Toledo, OH  43604

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer
The Honorable Jan Brewer
Governor of Arizona
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
(602) 542-4331
(800) 253-0883

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1111

Senator George Voinovich
420 Madison Avenue
Room 1210
Toledo, OH 43604
(419) 259-3895

Senator Sherrod Brown
200 N High St. Room 614
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 469-2083
(888) 896-6446

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur
One Maritime Plaza - Sixth Floor
Toledo, Ohio 43604
(800) 964-4699
(419) 259-7500

Congressman Robert Latta
1045 N. Main Street, Suite 6
Bowling Green, Ohio 43402-1361
(419) 354-8700
(800) 541-6446

I'm going to write and explain that I oppose the Lucas county commissioners resolution, and moreover I support Arizona's Governor and I think SB 1070 is good law.  If I should get any replies I'll post them here.

As a final thought, if Gerken, Konop and Wozniak are so concerned about our civil rights, why aren't they doing more to restore our 2nd Amendment rights? 

Worth Reading

I follow Beat and Release pretty regularly, and he's written something noteworthy.  Click here to learn about Dogs and The Police.

Lucas County Government

The city of Sylvania has successfully purchased a white elephant from Toledo, conclusively proving that Sylvania mayor Craig Stough doesn't know what to do with the copious tax surplus he's hidden in the city mattress.  The elephant in question, Christmas Wonderland, has been stored at the Lucas County Recreation Center since 1963.  The display consists of 1960s robotic elves, reindeer and life size commercial figures of the sort we used to find in the display windows of department stores downtown.  This was back in the days when we had elevator operators.  The Toledo Blade wrote about it here.

Meanwhile, Ben Konop, aided and abetted by the Toledo Blade, is trying to revolutionize Lucas county government.  The Blade continues to champion his efforts (click here) and strangely refuses to answer any pertinent questions, such as why Lucas county needs a new form of government headed up by a county czar.  Maggie Thurber has written about this a few times.  Click here for her latest effort, which is worth reading, here for an explanation of the charter form of government.  Under the charter form of government, Lucas county would be ruled by a County Czar, a descriptive title coined by Francine Lawrence.
Francine Lawrence, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers union, termed the proposed new county executive a "county czar,"...
You see, the way the county government is set up now the county commissioners are restricted by Ohio law.  They have no real legislative power and this irks all three of them no end, hence the push to change to a form of government which would allow one person to control the county without much oversight - an idea of questionable merit.

Which brings me to the point of my rambling.  When Sylvania first bid on this nostalgic eyesore, they were in competition with a private individual who also wanted the display.  Faced with two bids, the Lucas county government was trying to decide who to sell the display to based on what the buyer was going to do with the display, rather than simply selling this junk to the highest bidder.  The problem the commissioners had to overcome is that Ohio law forbids this behavior.  From The Blade:
In reviewing the two proposals, county Administrator Peter Ujvagi wrote in an e-mail how the "administration" concluded that the Sylvania group's plan "was the best by a significant margin." However, the administration soon learned that it must award the contract strictly to the highest bidder.
The highest bidder in this case was Bob Farley out of Perrysburg.  Bob had a plan to show the display in various parts of the county on a sort of rotating schedule so that more people could enjoy it.
John Borell, assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said county officials wanted to look at factors in addition to cost in determining which offer was best.
"They were going to evaluate the bid based on what the person was going to do with the personal property, but Ohio law [emphasis added] only allows personal property to be sold to the highest bidder" in that situation, Mr. Borell told The Blade.

And there it is, that pesky Ohio law.  The State of Ohio prevents the Lucas county government from enforcing the whims of the commissioners on the subjects residents of the county, and with good reason.  The charter form of government would change all that and allow the County Czar to dictate law and operation of the county to the mere civilians unfortunate enough to live in Lucas county.

Mind you, this doesn't prevent reprehensible behavior on the part of the county commissioners; it just makes their underhanded behavior a little more difficult.  In this case Pete Gerken and Tina Skeldon Wozniak turned to their second best ambulance chaser, assistant Lucas County prosecutor John Borell, who found a loop hole big enough to drive an antique Christmas display through.  From The Blade:

However, there is a caveat allowing the transfer or sale of property in this situation to another "political subdivision," such as a county, township, or governmentlike body like the Sylvania recreation district, Mr. Borell said.

So the county administration rejected the two bids and solicited new bids from just governmental entities.

The Sylvania group had the only bid in the second round.
Imagine that! Miracle of Christmas, Sylvania had the only bid and so won easily. How much was the bid, anyway? (sarcastic rhetorical question)

One dollar.  That's right, $1 in U.S. currency.  One dead president, peanut, greenback or buck. Whatever you'd like to call it.

Bob Farley said that the whole thing sounded like a set up from the beginning.  He's right.

Now here's the real question: Just who the hell is dumb enough to want someone with these morals writing, passing and enforcing law?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Restaurant Review: Ski's Restaurant

Ski's Restaurant
5834 Monroe Street
Sylvania, OH 43560-2266
(419) 882-1199
Ski's Restaurant 

Overall rating: Zero.

This place is owned by Jack Sparagowski who was involved in the handling the defense fund for the convicted murderer, ex-priest Gerald Robinson (click here).  I know Sparagowski and his family, and for that reason will never patronize Ski's.  I won't recommend it to anyone else, either.

Restaurant Review: China 1

China 1
5834 Monroe Street
Sylvania, OH 43560-2266
(419) 882-2700

Every once in a while I strike out.  I was hungry and decided to get some Chinese food to go, and China 1 was close, and open, and convenient, and boy did I get hosed.

For openers, I should have paid attention to the cleanliness and general look and feel of the place when I walked in.  I remember that it looked vaguely dirty and I couldn't tell if the buffet was open or not.  A half dozen Chinese kids were raising merry hell in a corner while two adults effortlessly ignored the bedlam.  This is supposed to be strike one and strike two.  All I can say is that I was tired, it was late and the rain was promising to come down in buckets.

I ordered chicken with garlic sauce, to go.  When I got home and unpacked my, ah, mystery meal, I cleared my vision and stared at it for a minute or two.  It didn't look right.  I tasted it.  Twice.  This stuff is so bad I couldn't believe it.  The chicken was cooked correctly, or was undercooked, or something.  Maybe it wasn't even chicken.

I then scraped my plate into the garbage, repacked the food and returned to China 1.  I returned the Styrofoam box to the Chinese lady at the register, explaining that it was no good and I didn't want it.  I didn't wait for a refund. 

My evaluation of China 1, in summary:
  • Ambiance: -3
  • Service: 0
  • Food: -5
Overall rating: -3.

I won't be back, and if the health department closes the place down the quality of life in Sylvania will improve a little.

Restaurant Review: King Chef

King Chef
6746 Sylvania Avenue
Sylvania, OH 43560-3519
(419) 882-9208

On the other side of the Classic Cafe is King Chef Chinese.  Although King Chef has a dining room of sorts, you'll likely be happier getting your order to go.  King Chef is a non-franchised proprietorship and the owners are on site.  Hours of operation are open to close, and will be posted as soon as I make another trip over there and remember to write the hours down.

The big draw at King Chef is the food.  The ingredients are fresh and the oil is used sparingly.  Clearly the chef knows what he's doing.  The only thing I could wish for at King Chef is brown rice.  Like almost every other oriental restaurant in the Toledo area, King Chef serves only white rice, which is a real shame given the quality of the food.  I'm rating the food at an 8.

King Chef has no ambiance.  While there are a few tables and chairs in case someone should want to eat at the restaurant, the place isn't really set up for that.  There's no table service and the dining room has the look of a cafeteria.  Ergo, I'm rating the ambiance at a zero.  I don't see that as a detriment, by the way.  The place just doesn't offer dining room services. 

The service at King Chef gets a solid 8.  The proprietors used to have limited English, but they will understand you (assuming you speak English) a lot better than you'll understand them.  They're cheerful people and they are glad for your patronage.

In summary:
  • Ambiance: 0
  • Service: 8
  • Food: 8
Overall rating: 8.

Restaurant Review: Gyro Town

Gyro Town
6732 Sylvania Avenue
Sylvania, OH 43560-3519
(419) 517-5330
Gyro Town Web Site
Mon - Sat 11 - 9; Sun 4 - 8

Right next door to the Classic Cafe is Gyro Town, specializing in Greek, Lebanese and American food.  Gyro Town is carry out only, but don't let that slow you down.  The food here is excellent.

Gyro Town is a non-franchised proprietorship, and one of the owners is almost always on site.  The service is very good, but effective communication depends on which owner is working that day.  While my order has never been screwed up, my attempts to make small talk or offer compliments on the food are sometimes met with a kind of vague smile and nod.

Gyro Town makes their own hummus, which is outstanding.  The pizza is excellent as well, and bears little resemblance to, say, Marcos or any other ubiquitous chain.

As I mentioned, Gyro Town is carry out only.  It has no ambiance beyond a counter and a few chairs so you can sit and wait.  You won't have to wait long, but if you're in a hurry you can call your order in and pick it up.  The service is well above the usual counter experience which usually involves a teenager whose personal hygiene habits you don't want to think about or an irate fat lady who has doused herself in cheap perfume which covers the smell of burning fat, so I'm giving the service an 8.  The food is outstanding, and I highly recommend the humus.  I rate the food at an 8.

In summary:
  • Ambiance: 0
  • Service: 8
  • Food: 8
Overall rating: 8.

Restaurant Review: Classic Cafe

Classic Cafe
6742 Sylvania Avenue
Sylvania, OH 43560-3519
(419) 882-3465

I eat at the Classic Cafe on a fairly regular basis.  The place specializes in what I would refer to as 'diner style' American food.  They're open from around 6:00 AM until 5:30 PM.  These are approximate times as I forgot to note the hours of operation at lunch today.

The Classic Cafe is a non-franchised proprietorship.  One of two owners is almost always on site, and in the unlikely event that there is a problem with the food or service, the problem will be fixed immediately.  This is one of the advantages of eating at the Classic Cafe or any proprietorship with the owner on site.

The food is good quality and the service is well above average.  The dining is casual and comfortable enough to encourage you to sit a while and read your paper after breakfast.  Mind you, it isn't fancy and it is not deathly quiet, but the families that go there tend to keep their rabid little hellions on a short leash and a crusty curmudgeon single man can generally find a table far enough away from the inevitable flock of cackling old hens that your meal can be enjoyed in peace.

I rate the ambiance of the Classic Cafe at a 6.  It's better than an upscale cafeteria but not as comfortable as a quiet dining room.  The service, which is the best part of the Classic Cafe, gets a solid 8.  I've been eating there for several years, on and off, and I've only had bad service once.  The food should be rated at a 6 or 7, but I'm feeling generous today so it gets an 8 instead.  The thing to remember here is that the Classic Cafe is not trying to sell you a steak that that they claim is USDA Prime, but that you can't cut without pulling out your Gerber Mk. II; when they advertise a hamburger, you will get a good quality hamburger.

In summary:
  • Ambiance: 6
  • Service: 8
  • Food: 8
Overall rating: 7.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dog Problems

The trouble is, the dog tends to be aggressive.  I've written about Excellent Rachmaninoff before (click here) and explained about his behavior.  In short, he loves other dogs but does not like people. So this morning as Main Lady and I were taking him for his canine constitutional he reacted badly to a jogger who snuck up behind us.

I didn't see the lady coming, nor did I hear her.  Neither did Main Lady, and the last time I saw Rocky he was watering the landscape a few feet behind me.  Evidently he lunged at the woman because the retractable leash got jerked out of my hand without warning.  Rocky charged at the lady, whom we'll call Betty, and barked at her fiercely, jumping and lunging.  Betty did everything wrong.  She squealed, danced around and flapped her arms.  Rocky continued to bark and tried to jump up on her.  The donnybrook lasted about five seconds and at the end of it all Betty had a scratch on her forearm which bled.  Betty proceeded to collapse on the ground and cry.  She kept up the hysterics for a few minutes, then accepted my offer of first aid.  I bound up her wound with my pocket handkerchief, which was unused and clean.  I offered her a ride home, which she declined.  Betty then requested my name, address and cell phone so that she could report the attack.  Now, I'm prepared to be generous here but not that generous, plus I didn't have my cell phone with me.

All three of us walked the 6 or so blocks back to Main Lady's house, with Rocky and Main Lady in the lead.  When we got to the house, Main Lady retrieved proper first aid supplies and we cleaned and bandaged the scratch while standing in the driveway.  Then, after more apologies from both of us, Betty accepted my offer of a ride to her home, during which time I learned that she was the controller of a non-profit organization and married with young children.  The longer I listened to her, the more I got a feel for what might have happened and why Betty overreacted the way she did. Physically, Betty is stocky, about five and a half feet tall, maybe one-forty; she could lose a few pounds.  Betty does not live nearby, her home being a few miles from Main Lady's house.

Naturally Betty felt it her civic duty to report her dog bite, and did so.  The Sylvania Police got involved and sent a policeman around to look at the wound and take information for a report.  I presume the same policeman came to Main Lady's home, but neither of us was home at the time.  Main Lady took Rocky over to her mother's house and I was headed somewhere else to call my attorney, Johnny the Hammer.  The Sylvania Police then called the house asking for Rocky's license number and proof of his last rabies vaccination.  Rather than having the police come around and collect it, we went to the Sylvania City Police station and gave them the information they wanted.  The policeman informed us that he'd seen the wound, and that it was a dog bite.  Main Lady and I informed him politely that it wasn't, and that's where we left it.  The patrolman was polite, but he struck me as being pretty young.  His leather was brand new and had no wear marks on it.  I think he needed to shave about twice a week.  The bottom line is that we must keep Rocky in quarantine for ten days so as to check for rabies.  This is not a big deal as most dogs are kept in quarantine anyway, Rocky included.

Main Lady called her daughter, Cottontail, who is a veterinarian and explained what happened.  Cottontail sided with the dog, stating that any dog would have reacted this way after being startled by a jogger coming up from behind, and that only a medical doctor can diagnose a wound as a dog bite.  Here I believe that Cottontail is referring to the legal definition as well as a common speech definition.  In this case, the wound was caused by Rocky scratching Betty's arm; Betty says Rocky bit her.  I don't dispute that Rocky would bite; I dispute that in this case he did bite.  There's a difference.  Johnny the Hammer stated that there isn't much to worry about.  Papa Doc Skeldon is no longer in office and the Tonton Macoute have had their gunnysacks confiscated by the new dog warden and homeowners insurance will cover any medical expenses.  I wouldn't expect any, but I suppose you never know.

Clearly I should have had better control over the dog.  All I can say is that I'm not at my best first thing in the morning and that I never saw it coming.  Main Lady was residing in a world of her own making doing Lord only knows what, and she didn't see the problem either.  I've tried to train the dog, and have succeeded in teaching him to sit, stay and lie down.  He's quick to obey these commands under most conditions, although in stressful situations he does not like to lie down.  Normally, we'd all move aside and allow the jogger to pass unmolested.  Today was not normal.

Betty works as an executive in a politically correct environment.  As I talked to her and she calmed herself down, I detected a certain amount of arrogance in her speech and mannerisms.  I think Betty has a sense of entitlement about the world around her.  A sort of 'people are in my way' attitude.  Betty wouldn't think anything of running up behind us; we're obstacles in her way.  When her preconceived notion about the world was rudely shattered by a fiercely barking dog, she literally collapsed.  It's likely that Betty feels more than a little vindictive by now.

For my part, I'm going to teach Excellent Rachmaninoff a new command or two.  He learns pretty quickly, so we'll see how fast he can pick up on a solid 'come' or 'return' command.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dog Pound Situation

Proposed revamp of dog laws approved
Warden says, 'My dogs are dying'

Written for the Toledo Blade by JC Reindl (  Click here for the article.

Right after the Lucas county's Dog Warden Advisory Committee (DWAC) voted to send its new, nine page law to Toledo mayor Mike Bell and the Toledo city council for their rubber stamp of approval, the new Lucas County dog warden Julie Lyle (Tom 'Papa Doc' Skeldon's replacement) shocked everyone into silence with her report on kennel conditions at the dog pound.  From The Blade:

Shortly after voting on the plan, committee members heard the dog warden's distressing report about illness running rampant.

"I'm just so shocked," said Deb Johnson, head veterinarian with the Toledo Area Humane Society.

Why should she be? This condition is nothing new. It's been going on for years, and in any case Deb Johnson is an experienced veterinarian. She should know what the conditions are like at the dog pound. I'm just so shocked! D.S. (like B.S., only different)  She's shocked she has to respond in a public forum.

Asked if volunteers could help her operation, Ms. Lyle replied that she has yet to receive the necessary permission from her department's employees' union.

And there we have it: Labor unions. They won't do the work themselves, but they won't let a non-union worker who needs a job do the work because that would be taking work away from the union. They won't even allow a non-union volunteer do the work. Clearly, the labor union is much more important than the health and suffering of a few dogs.  Notice that DWAC members didn't gripe about the labor union or the fat benefit packages that union members get, or if they did The Blade didn't print it.  No surprise either way, I'd say, but just bring up an entrepreneur, a licensed veterinarian and the committee goes bat shit.
Several members voiced criticism of the county's veterinary care contract with Dr. Roger Spiess of Wauseon. Dr. Spiess and his associate, Dr. Cindy Thurston, have provided veterinary services to the pound under a contract approved by county commissioners in January.
Doctors Spiess and Thurston have a billing rate of $40 an hour, with a minimum four hour charge per visit.  They both bill for travel time.  This is a very reasonable rate, and the rate should actually be closer to $60 an hour, given that the doctors take care of their own taxes, benefits, expenses and union dues.  Well, probably not union dues.
Committee Chairman Steve Serchuk said he will speak with Lucas County commissioners about changes to the contract.

"I think we need to have a few people sit down with the commissioners on this one issue," Mr. Serchuk said.
You do that, Steve.  While you're at it, see if you can get cheaper veterinary care somewhere else, because I'm betting you can't.  I also think the Lucas county commissioners should call you on the carpet and clean your ears out, then tell you to keep your yap shut.

I also think the real reason this side note got any print at all is due to the author, JC Reindl.
Dr. Spiess did not return a message left yesterday on his personal cell phone.
It's likely Roger Spiess didn't want to get involved in the issue.  Maybe, just maybe, Dr. Spiess has to work for a living and doesn't have time to waste on hacks like you.

We the people are not beholden to the press; certainly not to The Blade.  We don't have to return your calls, and we don't have to talk to you.  In this case a fairly intelligent professional saw that The Blade was trying to find some sensationalism and declined to participate, which is something that should happen a whole lot more often.

More Dog Law

We have too much law in Ohio, especially where dogs are concerned.  I don't know what sets some people off about dogs, but I've seen it happen on more than one occasion.  Perfectly reasonable people go nuts when they see a dog off leash, or learn about a dog park opening, or - heaven help us all - discover that it is now legal to own more than one pit bull.

Tyrone Yates wrote HB 568 which states, in part:

Sec. 955.111.  (A) Beginning ninety days after the effective date of this section, no person shall own, keep, or harbor a dog that belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull dog.
(B) Not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, a person who owns, keeps, or harbors a pit bull dog on the effective date of this section shall surrender the dog to the dog warden. Not later than ten days after receiving the dog, the dog warden shall euthanize the dog.
The bill was defeated, but it shows something about Tyrone's mentality.  Tyrone is, at heart, a left wing fascist.  The man actually believes that he can run your life better than you can, and if you fail to follow his directions he'll either put you in jail or find some other way to punish you.  Before you start defending Tyrone, consider the provisions in HB 568 and remind yourself that bills like this one will not be restricted to confiscating dogs.

The government in Toledo, Ohio isn't any better.  Toledo had a law against owning a pit bull, but the law was declared unconstitutional by a group of judges that are almost as oppressive as Tyrone.  Mayor Mike Bell suddenly found himself without a law to enforce and reacted swiftly, directing the appointed members of the Lucas county dog warden's advisory committee to draft a new law.  They did: nine pages worth.  Click here for the story from The Blade.

Nine pages to replace a four paragraph, unconstitutional law.  This is ridiculous.  Worse, no one has ever thought about the novel idea of not making a new law.  I suppose these people believe that the entire reason for having a government is to control the citizens - isn't it?  (that was a rhetorical, sarcastic question.)  The new law expands the power of the government and gives its representatives The ability to seize the dogs of owners deemed reckless.  They'll likely call the SWAT team out to help with the dog seizures, which will make for some real interesting reading in The Blade.  I'll wait for the lawsuits on a SWAT raid to confiscate one or more dogs from a government-labeled "reckless owner", especially if the reckless owner is black African American a person of color  a member in good standing with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP and plays the race card.  But then, Mayor Mike Bell and most of the Toledo city council can counter that with a race card of their own, so maybe that's a wash.

I note here that the breed of the dog is determined by the observer.  If your friendly governmental representative thinks your dog is a pit bull, then it is.  If the government thinks you are a reckless owner, then you are and the family pet will be confiscated and killed by the dog warden.

Eventually these arrogant little morons will run afoul of real authority and they'll get their little paddies smacked with a ruler.  Meantime, they are a pain in the royal venochie of anyone unfortunate enough to live in Toledo.

Tyrone, by the way, is no longer an elected official.  Tyrone is now a judge, thanks to governor Strickland who should know better than to appoint a complete asshole like Tyrone to the bench.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Head's Up!

There will be a meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the McMaster Center at the Main Library downtown concerning the new form of county government being proposed by Ben Konop. I encourage everyone to attend and ask Konop a few questions about his proposal. For more information, check Maggie Thurber's blog: Konop Forces Failed Ideas Into His County Charter Proposal

One man who has been through this in Cuyahoga County states that residents should be wary of public officials who try to seize or increase their power. See the news link:
Cautions sounded on Lucas County reforms: Public hearing set on issue for Tuesday night

The questions I want answered are:

  1. Specifically, what new powers or authority would the new form of government have?
  2. If the new form of government doesn't fulfill resident's expectations, how can Lucas county return to the old form of government?
  3. Tell me three problems that exist in our current form of county government and how they would be fixed by switching to a charter form of government, then cite some examples supporting your opinion.
  4. How many other counties in Ohio have changed to this new form of government, and what do they have to say about it?
  5. Who is supporting this idea, outside of The Blade?

I doubt I'll get the opportunity to speak, but you never know.   I'm really curious about the second question.  Even if we did this, if it doesn't work out how do we fall back to our previous position?  I suspect that the real answer is that we can't.  Once chosen, this is irrevocable.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Police on Trial

Actually, the title should be something like, "Policeman Being Persecuted" or "Conclusive Proof: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished".  In brief, Sargent Mark Fry of the Toledo Police rescued a fawn by Cesarean section (the doe was killed by a car), then took the new born home and he and his wife raised it.  This meant getting up once every hour to feed the fawn - think about that for just a minute, and remember you've got to show up for work not looking like five miles of bad road.  This is a noble effort on the part of officer Mark Fry and his wife Darla and I'm glad some good publicity is coming out of it.  How often do we get to read about the police saving a life?  And hey, it's Bambi!  Who wouldn't want to save Bambi, right?  Everything should be hearts, flowers and Officer Mark could visit a few grade schools as a kind of public outreach program or something.  You'd think everyone would be on board with this, right?  Wrong.  There's a fly in every ointment, a villain in every story and a politician in every elected office.  It seems that what officer Mark Fry did is against Ohio State law.  Here's the link to the story in the Toledo Blade: Officer Rescues Newborn Fawn But Ends Up In Trouble With State.   

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) are not happy with officer Fry, and so paid him a little visit the other day.  Things did not go as expected.  From The Blade:
ODNR officials visited Sargent Fry early Wednesday. He said he ordered the officials off his property, as they did not have a search warrant, and said he indicated to them that he would turn over the animal the following day.
Follow that?  The ODNR did not have a search warrant, and since we aren't reading about an armed standoff I gather the ODNR left when ordered to do so.  That's worth remembering.

Since then, Norman (AKA Bambi) has escaped his pen and is now at large somewhere in Lucas county.  Norman is armed and dangerous.  We think.  Things being how they are, the ODNR likely feels as though they've been had, which is accurate.  They aren't worried about any negative public relations, either.  The Toledo Police department is backing Sargent Fry:
Chief Navarre said he opposes any prosecution of Sergeant Fry for nursing the fawn back to life, and called Mr. Newsome [wildlife officer supervisor for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources] earlier this week to warn about the potential public relations ramifications of the issue.
If Officer Fry is arrested and charged with a crime, my advice to Officer Fry is to demand a jury trial.  Just let me sit on the jury.

Here I'm referring to something called jury nullification, explained in detail herehere and here. What this amounts to is that if the jury, or any member of the jury decides that the alleged actions of the accused were reasonable or justifiable then the jury is allowed to find the accused not guilty in spite of the law.  Judges will not inform the jury of jury nullification, likely because if the jurors discovered their authority they would begin applying common sense to criminal trials.  We couldn't have that, now could we?  We the people would be usurping the judge's authority, and the judge doesn't like that.

Everyone should understand their duties as a juror thoroughly, and most people don't.  If you don't know about jury nullification, go read about it and become informed.

My congratulations to Toledo Police Sgt. Mark Fry and his wife Darla for doing a good job.  I'm glad Officer Fry is a policeman.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Alright you birds, let's have a little more respect around here. 

Some time ago I fat fingered the keyboard and landed on Kindergarten Cop, which offers Everything you wanted to know about the day in the life of a school resource officer and some things you didn't.  He's an excellent writer and author of one of the most outstanding police officer blogs on the Internet.  I highly recommend you go over and read his blog, leaving a few comments if you enjoy his posts.  If not, write you criticisms or suggestions on the back of a brand new hundred dollar bill and send it to him; he'll give your opinion serious consideration.

Getting right to the point without further preamble, Kindergarten Cop had a contest that appealed to yours truly, and it turns out I'm a winner.  Here's the link:  And the Winner of the USB Bullet Drive Giveaway Contest Is..........

The prize is way wicked cool - a USB drive in the shape of a bullet.  What a way to start the weekend!

Here's a hoist of the old bourbon glass and a tip of the fedora to Kindergarten Cop.  Here's how!

Sylvania Township Police

On Friday, May 28 I published the article Late Breaking News - Major Electric Blackout Averted!

You can look it over if you like, but the point is that I spoke with an officer of the Sylvania Township Police who was affable, and struck me as a good sort of person - friendly and easygoing.  Yesterday (Thursday) I saw the same officer at the corner of Flanders and Alexis, around noon, helping a lady who had run out of gas on Alexis road.  The officer parked his police car in back of the disabled auto and, as I saw him, was helping a middle aged lady put a gallon or so of fuel into the tank.  Instead of passing the stalled auto at 90 mph and blaring their horns at her, passing motorists were respectfully slowing down and providing a wide berth.  I'm told this is called the halo affect.

I didn't get his name or his badge number, but I want to congratulate him for doing a good job.  It was nice of him to stop and get out and help.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

TARTA and Taxes

The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA), commonly known as The Bus, is asking for more money.  I'm not surprised.  What surprises me is the clever way in which TARTA is camouflaging their request.  TARTA is offering to exchange the funds they receive via property tax for a small county wide sales tax.  One half cent, to be precise.  This means that property owners will pay a little less tax each year, something that is always desirable.  Residents who do not own property will start contributing to the cost of keeping TARTA rolling, another plus.  TARTA will get a much needed increase in funding.  From The Toledo Blade:
The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority had proposed giving up its 2.5-mill levy on property in exchange for a half-cent sales tax. The switch was expected to boost TARTA's annual tax revenue from $17.2 million to $25.6 million.
The sales tax would have a life span of ten years before it would be up for renewal.  By contrast, the property tax levy must be approved every four years.  That's quite a difference.  That means TARTA gets an $8.4 million dollar increase and doesn't have to worry about anything for nine and a half years.  Six months before the levy is up for renewal there will be a flurry of activity along with the requisite finger pointing and name calling, then we get to see if TARTA will have to cut back on services.

To get this on the ballot and make the new tax a reality TARTA first needs the approval of Lucas County and all nine area communities; Maumee, Ottawa Hills, Perrysburg, Rossford,Spencer Township, Sylvania Township, Sylvania, Toledo, and Waterville.  Perrysburg and Rossford have the option of dropping TARTA services if the tax were enacted.  Lucas County, Ottawa Hills and Spencer Township gave their approval for this new tax.  Sylvania Township did not.  Here's how the meeting went.

Carol Contrada voted Yes, saying that she:
...shared many of the concerns expressed by the other two township trustees, Kevin Haddad and John Jennewine, but said she would have preferred to schedule a special meeting for June 15 so that TARTA would have more time to explain its position.
Right.  Explain.  How many times have you heard someone say they just needed to explain?  Just let me explain...
Kevin Haddad voted No, stating:
TARTA hasn't come close to being operated as efficiently as a private business, said Mr. Haddad, citing the beauty salon he has owned on Monroe Street for three decades as an example of a well-run business.
"When it's public funding, you don't run it like a business because it's a gravy train," he said.
John Jennewine voted No, being in agreement with Kevin Haddad's reasoning and also because:

Mr. Jennewine said he was irked to learn the Ohio Public Transit Association, of which Mr. Gee is a board member [TARTA General Manager James Gee], had begun exploring asking voters to approve a 0.25-percent statewide sales tax in the fall of 2012 to generate revenue for public transit across Ohio.
"Are you guys waiting for approval [of the local proposal] here before you spring that additional revenue stream on us?" Mr. Jennewine asked.
My congratulations to Mr. John Jennewine for being well informed.  And yes, I believe that's exactly what TARTA intended to do.

I'll tell you what I find interesting here.  Two Sylvania Township trustees did a much better job with this vote than I thought they would, and both are well informed about the situation.  Much more informed than, I think, most elected officials.  I wonder if the government in Ottawa Hills knew about this State sales tax that's in the making.  I'll bet this is the first they've heard about it.

I also find it interesting that the Lucas County commissioners have approved this change in taxation, and that Carol Contrada would like a seat on the Lucas County government (link here), and Carol tap danced, said that she had concerns but wanted to give TARTA a chance to explain in a special meeting.  Yeah, explain.

Let me explain something.  We, the residents of Lucas County, are either broke or badly bent.  We do not want more taxes or higher taxes.  We already pay the government too much money for too little service. We want lower taxes and we want them now.  We want our government to run efficiently, more like a beauty salon and less like a bunch of politicos at the hog trough.  Understand?

Links to articles in the Toledo Blade are here, here and here.  Lisa Renee is carrying the story here.  Maggie Thurber has an excellent summation of the situation here, including information not mentioned elsewhere.