Local

A Tour Through Our Yard January 15, 2015

I took a brief walk through our yard today. Brief, because there is about six inches of snow on the ground and I have no boots. Here are a few of the pictures I took while circling the house.

wood ornament

Brr. It’s cold and snowy out here. My bones feel like wood.

snow in boughs of pine tree

Snow in the boughs of the 50 foot pine tree that sits in our front yard.

japanese flowering cherry tree

Snow on Japanese Flowering Cherry Tree

Snow on our Japanese Flowering Cherry tree. It did not flower this year due to a late freeze and it dropped its leaves in the middle of the summer. We fear it is d-e-a-d. In about ten or so weeks we will know for sure. If it is dead, I plan to turn it into a woodpecker haven.

winter 3am ney ohio 2015

Winter 3 AM, Ney, Ohio 2015

Not related to the yard tour. I shot this photo a couple of nights ago at 3 AM. The sodium light gives the street a yellow tint. I shot this picture out of an open bedroom window. Thank you to Polly for holding the curtain back while standing there in her PJ’s freezing her ass off.

Our Winter Visitors

Polly and I are avid birdwatchers. What follows are several pictures of the birds that found their way to our feeders today.

female cardinal and sparrow

Male Cardinal, Sparrow in Pussy Willow

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Male Cardinal on Bird Feeder

male cardinal

Male Cardinal Perched in Pussy Willow

male junco

Male Junco

male hairy woodpecker

Male Hairy Woodpecker

male red bellied woodpecker

Male Red-Bellied Woodpecker

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Male Red-Bellied Woodpecker

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Male Red-Bellied Woodpecker

nuthatch

Nuthatch

Winter and the Feral Cat

Six weeks ago, I wrote a post about a feral cat we were trying help. What follows is a pictorial update of how the cat is doing half way through winter. As you will see, he is quite sassy and fat. Several times a day, he wanders over to the cat house to get something to eat. Sometimes, he will stay for a few minutes, other times he stays for a few hours, especially if it is snowing.

His mother is doing well and she also frequents the cat house to find something to eat. The kitten is quite independent now, but, from time to time, I will see them chasing each other through the snow-covered yard. We also have a number of other feral cats that stop by at least once a day to feed at the Gerencser Buffet®.

feral kitten

Feral Kitten

black feral cat

Black Feral Cat

Our newest visitor. Eerie eyes that say, take my picture and you will have seven years of bad luck.

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Feral Kitten

feral kitten 3

Feral Kitten

That’s Bethany’s feet in the background. She is the ONLY one that the cat will come close to.

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Feral Kitten

feral kitten 1

Feral Kitten

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Feral Kitten Watching a Cardinal

Oh, Mr Cardinal, please come just a little closer so I can eat you for lunch.

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Hey, that Fat Redheaded Guy is Taking my Picture

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Feral Kitten, What’s that Noise?

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Feral Kitten

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Feral Kitten

Defiance vs Findlay Basketball Game January 10, 2015

Last Saturday, my son, grandson, and I attended the basketball game between Defiance High School and Findlay High School. Defiance is ranked fourth in Ohio High School Basketball Division II and Findlay is a Division I school, so I thought this would be a great game to attend. As always, I took my camera with me. Here are a few of the pictures I took:

kirk's krazies defiance high school

The Defiance High School Student Section is called Kirk’s Krazies.

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Kirk’s Krazies, Defiance High School

The coach of the Findlay High School Trojans complained about the officiating right from the start of the game. His complaining infected his team and Findlay fans, and the game was one nonstop bitchfest about the officiating.

jim rucki findlay high school basketball coach

Jim Rucki, Findlay High School Basketball Coach

What made things worse was one of the officials developed rabbit ears. Rabbit ears is a sports term for someone who listens to criticism and lets it affect their game, or in the case of this official, their ability to officiate the game.

mr rabbit ears

Mr Rabbit Ears

Instead of ignoring the Findlay coach, this official began responding, often with thrown up hands and the words, I didn’t see it.  This is the worst thing an official can do. Like a shark smelling blood in the water, a seasoned coach like Rucki will continue to badger an official, knowing the official is paying attention.

The game was a tightly contested:

defiance vs findlay basketball game january 10, 2015

#20 Kameron Singleton and #32 Chaze Proehl

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#10, Grant Niswander

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#4, Michael Menendez, #10, Wes Detter, #Unknown

The deciding factor came down to trust, which coach trusted his point guards to run the offense and win the game. At the end of regulation, the game was tied and it took two overtimes before Defiance prevailed 63-58.

During the overtimes, the points guards for Defiance ran the floor like seasoned veterans:

defiance vs findlay basketball game january 10, 2015 4

#4, Michael Menendez

When the game really mattered, it was the Findlay coach’s lack of trust in his point guard that cost his team the game. When he brought the ball up the court he would look to the bench for the play. Perhaps he was a young, inexperienced player and Coach Rucki didn’t trust him to run the offense.  One thing was quite evident, Kirk Lehman, the Defiance coach, trusted his points guards, when the game was on the line, to execute the offense. This is the one thing that made the difference and Defiance came away with the victory.

Note

Lest anyone accuse me of being a homer, I attended Findlay schools from 8th through 11th grade. I have a great fondness for Findlay High School sports. This post reflects my take on the game as a sports fan. That said, I like the way Defiance plays the game, so I plan to watch more of their games in the coming weeks.

The Bryan Times Shuts Down Printing Operation

the bryan times

According to the WBNO website, the 65-year-old Bryan Times will no longer be printing the newspaper in-house. This end 150 years of a local newspaper being printed in Bryan, Ohio.

This comes as no surprise as small-town newspapers such as The Bryan Times try to adapt to the changes in how local residents get their news. As with TV news, newspapers have an increasingly aging subscriber base. Younger adults no longer turn to the TV or newspaper to get the news.

The Bryan Times made a stab at having a website with blogs and other internet news, hoping to attract those who use the internet to get their news. I doubt anyone at the newspaper would consider the website initiative a rousing success. The Times, like the Defiance Crescent-News, hides most of its news behind a paywall.

While I understand the economics behind such a move, younger adults will just look for some other news site at which to get their news. Having grown up in an age where most everything on the internet is “free,” most younger adults are not willing to pay for online news. Young adults live in a world where they can stream unlimited movies with Netflix or stream unlimited music with Spotify for less than $10.00 a month. In their mind, paying $8.99 for a newspaper they can read in a few minutes is an unnecessary, frivolous cost. They might spend the equivalent amount of money buying ring tones for their smartphone, but young adults increasingly no longer see the value in a printed newspaper.

Even though I am an old man, I no longer subscribe to a printed newspaper. I read the Crescent-News online, and every day I read blogs, news websites, Facebook, and Twitter to get my news fix.  I wistfully lament the passing of printed newspapers, especially those that played such an influential part of my life. Over the years, I  faithfully read The Bryan TimesDefiance Crescent-NewsZanesville Times-Recorder,Newark AdvocateDetroit Free PressThe Columbus DispatchThe Toledo BladeThe Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Findlay Republican CourierYuma Sun TimesThe Arizona Republic, and the Perry County Tribune. And these are just the papers I read regularly when I was living in these communities.  I also read, from time to time, small, local weekly papers, along with the newspaper of whatever community Polly and I were vacationing in. Needless to say, my newspaper reading habits resulted in the death of a lot of trees.

As I looked up the links for the aforementioned newspapers, I noticed that many of the newspapers had been bought out by larger media companies. What were once local, independent newspapers are now owned by media giants such as Gannett.  I suspect the newspaper industry will continue to contract until almost every newspaper is a subsidiary of a Wall Street media giant.  Future historians will write of the days when America lost the voice of a free press.

The Bryan Times remains a family-owned independent newspaper. The Cullis family has owned the paper for many years. Christopher Cullis, the same age as I am, is currently the publisher. Years ago, when I first started writing Community Voice editorials for the Times, Cullis told me that my editorial could be any length, but if I wanted people to read it I should write 800-1,000 words. This proved to be good advice.

Several times, Cullis called me after I submitted an editorial to ask if I really meant to say _________________? In most cases the answer was “No,” and he would suggest a better wording. I appreciate his help in making me a better writer.

Sadly, with the Times moving its printing to Fort Wayne, 18 people will lose their jobs. I suspect some of these employees have worked for The Bryan Times many years. No doubt, their layoff was a difficult action for the Cullis family to take.

In 1946, Grant Brown opened Brownie’s Restaurant in Bryan, right next door to The Bryan Times. It  was Bryan’s first drive-in restaurant. As a teenager, I ate many a hamburger at Brownie’s. For a time, I even had a weekly tab that I paid each payday. Facing competition from the chain fast food restaurants that moved into Bryan in the 1970s, Grant Brown closed  Brownie’s in 1975. The Times bought the building and tore it down to make way for a building expansion.

Will The Bryan Times go the way of Brownie’s Restaurant? I hope not, but I wonder if there is a future for the printed newspaper? It is increasingly cost-prohibitive to print a newspaper, and being unable to significantly raise subscription prices, newspapers cut the one thing they can cut: their employees.

I wish the Cullis family nothing but the best. The Bryan Times is one of the best small town newspapers around. From my Mom’s letters to the editor in the 1960s to my own letters to the editor and Community Voice editorials, The Bryan Times has graciously allowed us to voice our take on the world. I wish them nothing but the best, even if I have my doubts that a prosperous future lies ahead.  Someday, we will realize what we’ve lost as a result of  the decline of American newspapers. For now – hey, did you see what J-Lo and Kim Kardashian did today? OMG!

Note

The Bryan Times was established in 1949. Before that, the local newspaper was called The Bryan Union Free Press, The Bryan Press, and The Bryan DemocratYou can read some of the old newspapers here.

041616

Abusive Fan at Wauseon vs. Tinora Basketball Game

tinora wauseon basketball game 2014

#32, Jacob Miller, #10, Nathan Drewes, #44, Logan Bailey, #20 Unkown

Last night, several of my sons, grandson, and I attended the Buffalo Wild Wings Holiday Classic Championship Game at Defiance College. The game featured two local high school teams, the Wauseon Indians and the Tinora Rams. The game was closely contested until the end when Wauseon pulled away from Tinora. The final score was 52-38.

I love attending high school basketball games. Three of my grandchildren are enrolled in the Tinora school district, and several more will likely enroll in the coming years. I hope to live long enough to see several of my grandchildren play sports at Tinora.

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#22, Noah Castle, #22, Tyler Risner

When I attend high school sporting events, I find myself drifting back to the days when I played sports. I was never much of an athlete, good enough to make the team, but never good enough to be a starter. When I attended small rural schools I was usually good enough to make the team. However, once we moved to the big city and I enrolled in Findlay High School, I rarely made it beyond the first or second cut. Fortunately, living in a larger community afforded me the opportunity of playing city league basketball and baseball. Regardless of my own nominal athletic ability, I love watching the games.

With the games come the fans. Most fans at the high school level are polite and respectful. Outside of reminding the officials of perceived wrong calls, most fans are there to cheer on the students of their school district. I am the rare fan that attends games just because there is a game being played.  Most fans are either graduates of one of the schools playing the game or have children or grandchildren on one of the teams.

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#22, Noah Castle, #5 Zac Robinson,#30, Carter Bzovi,#32, Jacob Miller,#Unknown

Last night, a totally sober fan of the Wauseon Indians decided to make an ass of himself near the end of the game. As Wauseon began to pull away from Tinora, this fan decided to start verbally abusing the Tinora players. Towards the end of the game, he took to attacking one player in particular, focusing on the player’s weight. (#32 in the dark/green jersey)

Evidently, either this man is a bully and his fellow Wauseon fans are afraid to tell him to shut the hell up, or they think his abusive behavior is funny. I, for one, thought it was despicable.

tinora wauseon basketball game 2014 5

#32, Jacob Miller

After a couple of minutes of listening to his abusive taunts, I started to stand and turn towards him. I felt a firm hand on my leg and my son said, leave it alone, Dad. You see, my sons know that I despise such people. I think they ruin the game environment and I don’t think them paying $6.00 for a ticket gives them the right to be an asshole.

Fortunately, the game ended a few moments later. If this man had continued blathering, I have no doubt I would have put him in his place. Guys like him are bullies who use words to abuse and attack others. While college and professional players are expected to ignore such fans (and I have a problem with it at this level too), such behavior has no place at high school sporting events.

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#32, Jacob Miller

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#32, Jacob Newlove, #32, Jacob Miller

 

Political Candidates and the Separation of Church and State

letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News. Published April 16, 2014.

Dear Editor:

This is an election year, and in less than a month Ohio will have a primary election. As a voting, taxpaying citizen of Defiance County, I want to pass on some advice to the candidates running for office and those who write letters to the editor showing their support for a particular candidate.

Not every voter in Defiance County is a Christian. Not every voter attends church on a regular basis. A sizable number of voters do not claim the Christian moniker, and outside of weddings and funerals, they never darken the doors of any local church. We are the “nones”, made up of atheists, agnostics, humanists, pagans, secularists and those who are indifferent toward religion. In Defiance County, there are also Muslims, Jews and Buddhists. I know this is hard for the Christian majority to believe, but living near them are people who do not think like they do about God and religion.

So, trumpeting the fact that you are a Christian, teach Sunday School, are pro-life, or are a member of the NRA might play well with Evangelicals, but for those of us who are not religious or not an Evangelical Christian, we are wary of people who play the faith card.

Being a Christian or being pro-life has nothing to do with how a candidate will perform as a local/county/state officeholder. In fact, when a candidate for office plays the faith card I am inclined to not vote for them. Why should I vote for a candidate that considers one voter demographic more important than another? This is especially true at the local/county level. I want officeholders that will represent everyone, not just those who are a part of their particular religious sect.

Those running for office would do well to mimic John F. Kennedy’s approach to religion. Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, made it clear that his personal religious beliefs would not come into play when he made decisions. Kennedy understood that he represented every citizen not just those who happened to be Christian.

The United States is a secular nation, not just at the federal level, but at the state, county, and local level too. I realize the candidates need votes to win. I realize that Defiance County is ruled by Evangelical, conservative, Republican ideology. Maybe it is a fantasy on my part to think that what every citizen of Defiance County needs to hear is how a candidate for office will spend our tax money, repair our roads, care for our poor and sick, and care for what we have entrusted to our governmental leaders.

It is these issues that will determine how I vote. Sadly, far too many of my fellow Defiance County citizens will vote, not on the issues, but on the number of buzz words they hear a candidate use. To them, where a candidate goes to church or what his view is on abortion is far more important than how he effectively governs.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney

Central Local School District Wednesday and Sunday Blackout Policy

letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News. Published October 28, 2013.

Dear Editor:

At a recent board meeting, the Central Local Schools board spent a significant amount of time discussing the Sunday/Wednesday blackout policy that forbids the use of buildings for school use on these days. These days are called designated family days.

The use of the phrase family days hides the fact that these kind of policies are put in place to promote the activities and services of local Christian churches. I have lived in school districts where some of the local clergy would express outrage every time the school district violated their sacred time territory.

I suspect that the Central Local policy falls under the category of, we have always done it this way. Instead of calling this blackout policy family day, the board should call it what it is — no building use on the days Christians normally gather for public worship.

Setting aside, for a moment, the constitutional issue this policy raises, I would love to know if the Central Local school board has any data that suggests that students use Wednesdays or Sundays for church activities or family time? I suspect they don’t.

The American Christian landscape has changed greatly over the last few decades. Most churches no longer have a Wednesday service, and those who do battle declining attendance. I suspect that most of the students in the Central Local school district do not attend church on Wednesday night. Even on Sunday, I doubt that more than half of the students attend church. Again, confirming this will require an empirical study to be conducted.

The Central Local school board needs to remember that they are the governing authority for a secular school district. If they would like to claim that the Sunday/Wednesday blackout is not a tip of the hat to the local Christian community, then I suggest they move the blackout dates to other days, say Monday and Thursday. If the real issue is “family time,” then any two days would work, right?

Lost in the discussion is the fact that, especially at the junior high and high school level, most students don’t want to spend Wednesdays or Sundays hanging out with family. Teens generally want to spend time with their friends, playing sports, or attending school activities and functions. Thinking that if students are given Wednesday and Sunday off will result in students chilling out with mom and dad is not only humorous but naïve.

It is time to move Central Local Schools board policies into the 21st century. The agrarian, Christian church-centered culture of my youth is dying. We now live in a connected, seven-day-a-week world. We pay taxes to provide an education for our community’s children. It makes sense to allow the buildings to be used on every day of the week if that helps facilitate this education.

I am in no way criticizing the board itself. They do a great job. It is this particular policy that I object to.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney