Friday, April 29, 2005

Townhall II

Perhaps you've heard of the Townhall II program, centered in Kent. Its an organization that works does various jobs, from family counselling to addiction services. It also works with the justice system to work at rehabilitating violaters of the law. They are planning on opening an office in the Windham area (somewhere, no idea exactly where) and are putting out the word that they are training what they call "community mediators" who would begin the counselling process. The training is going to be on May 14 and 15 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm both days.

Check out Townhall II's website. Its a Geocities page, so watch out for pop-ups.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Why Should I Care?

Good question. Why should you care about what I have to say about anything? I know, I know, you're just here for the senseless drivel put forth by an obviously disturbed mind, but still. In a perfect world, you'd already agree with everything that I have to say, and I wouldn't have to put it into this form. But alas, its not a perfect world.

All jokes aside, I think its a good thing to hear what other people have to say about nearly everything that comes down the pipeline. Whether its talking about relations between Lebanon and Syria, the Iraq war, Social Security, or whether the levies should or should not pass, I like to hear about why people do what they do. Everyone should have a reason for believing the way that they do. It disturbs me when you confront someone about something that they've said, and the only evidence that they can provide is "well I heard", or even better, "I dunno." That nearly drives me insane. Its a good idea to take about three steps backward from me when someone replies like that.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a Republican. Rich, evil, conservative, hoping that children die because they don't eat at school, hoping that old people die from lack of Social Security Republican. (If you actually believe those things, seek help.) I enjoy hearing the opposite side of political issues. If you have an excellent reason to vote against something that I'm for, great! Vote that way! You're the one voting on the issue, you're not an extension of my vote. Just don't yell and scream when I put forth my opinion in a much more skilled way, and therefore persuading so many more people of my position that its staggering.

So to answer the question. You should care, because you may be wrong. And I just might have the answer.

Of course, it could be the other way around.

I Want My MTV

Perhaps you've noticed the video tapes that have been floating around town the last day or two. These have been produced by some high school students (with some help). Below is a transcript of that video. Comments are italicised inline.

Win For Windham

Hi, I’m Lindsey Olson, a senior at the high school. A few of my friends and I have produced this video tape to tell you a little bit about the levy vote coming up on May 3rd.

First, a couple numbers for you, this emergency levy, which will run just five years, and then expire, is for 6.4 mills. Now, not everyone knows just what a mill is, so here’s a visual.

Here, we cut to a pathetic looking cheeseburger. Sad looking thing really. Poor guy doesn't even know he's being used as an indepth pie chart demonstrating the needs of an entire school discrict.

If your house is worth a hundred thousand, the amount of increase is equal to fifty-four cents, or one half of this cheeseburger. And a fifty thousand dollar house, one quarter of a cheeseburger is what the schools are asking for. Twenty-five to fifty-four cents a day to save your schools. That’s the bottom line. So now my friends will tell you a few things about what this levy means to Windham.

Quick point here. This is a very broad descriptoin. Of course, asking high school seniors to descibe the ins and outs of mlllage and tax levies could be a bit much to ask.

[Jeremy Evans]

Well as Lindsey said, the Board of Education needs 6.4 mills to keep the schools running. But up front, let’s be clear, that Windham has the second lowest tax rate in the entire county, but because Harbison-Walker is the only industry, we are rock bottom in the amount of money each of our mills generates, even less than farm districts, like Southeast and Waterloo. You know as well as we do that the state isn’t helping us with our general costs. They help us put up new buildings, then cut school funding so we can’t run them right. It’s a fact that state funding for the past two years has actually decreased, Windham gets less money than it did in 2003. And every year, they’re adding state mandated programs, but they’re not giving us the money to pay for them. It’s a shame that we couldn’t keep east open, and instead had to lease it to the county, now KT is not only overcrowded but if the levy fails, the board may have to cut seven more teaching positions over there.

Good points here, but didn't I just read that positions will be elimiated even if the levy passes? Details people! This is classic spin.

Do you know what seven fewer teachers does to class size? How can our town’s little kids get one-on-one, personal teaching when they’re packed in like sardines? And right now the budget is so tight that busing is limited to the two mile radius that meets state requirements.

My first grade had one teacher, and 28 students. That was in 1979. Let's talk sardines. Smaller classrooms too.

[Christiann Stanley]

So, what has the school board, your friends, and neighbors you elected to run the schools done to save money? Well, according to figures you can confirm yourself with Superintendent Niemiec, forty-four paid positions in the school have been eliminated in two years, folks, your Board of Education is looking out for your money, they know there’s none to throw away. Why just last year, they negotiated with the teachers to give up some of their health care benefits in exchange for a token 2.5% raise. You know what? The board saved thirty thousand dollars with just that one move. The honest truth is that people who work in Windham schools are the lowest paid in Portage County. If they couldn’t handle it, they’d leave, but they care as much about the schools as you do.

And everyone appreciates their raise being called a "token" raise. They're already the lowest paid in the county. But, you know, they can handle it. They'll just deal.

Now everybody wants to talk about sports. The whole town is proud of the great teams we’ve had, well, since 1940 according to the record books. Very few schools our size can claim the kind of history we have. But you know what? Our volleyball team, our football team, our basketball team could have been even better if 19 different coaching positions hadn’t been eliminated in the past two years. It’s a testament to the guts and courage of our guys and girls, but now, if the levy fails comes the added obstacle of “pay to participate”. What’s “pay to participate”? Every athlete has to pay to be on a team, if not enough kids come out to pay for the expenses like transportation and a coach, that team probably won’t exist anymore.

We asked two of Windham’s top scholar-athletes to tell us what being a Bomber has meant to them.

Jim Sands, chosen as all-Ohio first team all state in football, is going to Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh, one of the top universities in the entire country.

Jim, how did Windham get you ready for such a prestigious college?

Windham’s prepared me in many ways. The teachers here and coaches here go out of the way, they care a lot about you and being in that kind of environment helps you to succeed and excel.

Ali Roach is a two time first team volleyball player, as well as the reigning Homecoming Queen.

Ali, what has it meant to you over the years to wear the black and gold of the Windham Bombers?

Well I am very proud just to be part of the Windham sports program. I mean I’ve had wonderful coaches and teammates and I couldn’t imaging having a better experience. The memories I’ve made here couldn’t be better and they’re going to stay with me the rest of my life.

[cue ominous picture of a chorus practice]

And there’s one more nasty thing about paying to participate. Its not just about sports, but all extracurriculars. Every single student in Windham history has had the chance to excel in every area they wanted to, but not anymore, not if the levy fails.

Marching band and choir are never specifically mentioned, with seeming purpose.

[Josh Sweet]

We could talk for hours to talk about levy specifics, but we just don’t have the time. Any questions you have about taxes or anything you need to know to convince you that schools are not crying wolf, you can contact Superintendent Niemiec and ask him anytime of day and get an honest straightforward answer. Nobody has anything to hide.

Well since time is short we asked come community members, people we respect, whether they think the levy is vital to the future of our schools, and our village

[Jim Moore]

Well financed schools means that our children will have a good education, the same as we had, which they deserve, it also means the property values in the village and the township will be maintained and hopefully grow in value. It will prevent parents moving away from Windham to better schools, which would cause lower revenues for our community, and it would also, good financed schools and good education would also help bring more parents and children to this community.

Jim was standing in front of that lovely "100 Days of Summer" that has been up since last year. It was always fun to drive by the police station and see it defying Mother Nature in the dead of winter. That'll teach her!

[Bill Isler]

We’ve been in business in the Windham area for over 35 years, and we’ve used 11 or 12 of the highschool boys as they’ve graduated. I find them to be consistently honest, trustworthy, we use all kinds of equipment that they’re responsible for, they seem to want to research, they work hard, they seem to have integrity, and I attribute that to the schools plus their home life, I think we’ve got good kids here who go to good schools, and I’ve been very pleased with them in the workforce.

Windham used to be a much simpler place. Dirt roads ran towards the farm which the arsenal took from us. East Center Street used to have a stagecoach stop and every student went to a single building most voters no longer even remember brought there not by buses, but by horse drawn wagons.

So if we still had the dirt roads, the farm, and no arsenal, would our problems be solved?

Times have changed, but change comes at a price. The Windham Schools promise you that they’ve done all that they can with what they have. And without your help, the Windham Schools, now nearly 200 years old, may not be able to survive.

On May 3, we are asking for your help. All but two of the students that you’ve seen are seniors. We’re old enough to vote, and we appreciate what the Windham schools have given us. We already care about the next generation would like you to join us to face a future. We can make a stand, and we can say that Bomber pride is as strong as ever.
Overall, a pretty good performance, considering everything.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

If the Indians Game Gets Out of Hand...

You might want to check out tonight's game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. Pedro Martinez is going to be facing John Smoltz, number one and two in strikeouts in the NL, respectively. It could be a very short game, so jump online early to see what happens.

Lebanon and the World

Syria has pulled its troops out of Lebanon a bit early. Want to know why you should care? Consider this:

A victory by Lebanon's democratic opposition will deliver a blow against Syria, a blow against Iran's Hezbollah proxy, a blow against dictatorship, a blow against terrorism, and a blow against hate.

Taken from Spirit of America

Now go read the rest of the article.

Via Instapundit

The Superintendent Speaks

These questions and answers are gleaned (word of the day) from the Windham Discussion Forum, which you can find linked at the right of this post (or further up, if its drifted down the page because of new posts, speaking of which, if it has drifted down the page and you're just now getting here, where've you been?)

Put it in simple terms for me, why do we have this levy on the ballot in the first place?

The Windham Schools has a $530,000 per year problem that is caused in part by declining enrollment. We are down 100 students from last year. In state aid we get $5400 per student per year. This translates to a loss of state revenues of $540,000 per year. With 100 fewer students we need to reduce the number of classes. As an example. We have 50 kindergarten students in 3 classes or about 17 per class. We have four first grades this year. As these students move from kindergarten to grade one we cannot afford to have four sections of first grade with 12 students per teacher. The decline in enrollment has occurred over the last five years, but has been greatest this past year. It is difficult to predict such a drastic drop in one year.

The bottom line is that we need to reduce $200,000 to get our per pupil expenses in line and we are asking the voters for $330,000 so that we do not have make devastating cuts. It is my intention to recommend that we reinstate the JV teams if the levy passes.

Well, that wasn't all that simple, but I'll take it. I hear a lot about "per pupil cost" tossed around by some folks, can you explain this?

Yes our per pupil costs are too high. This is why we need to reduce expenditures. When the majority (77%) of our expenditures is devoted to personnel, jobs need to be eliminated. If a district spends more than 80% on personnel, it is in trouble. In 2002-03, we were at 90% being spent on personnel. This was a result of having too many employees; we have made significant cuts since then. As far as predicting enrollment, the district has lost about 100 students from 2003-04 to 2004-05. In the five years prior, from 1999-2000 to 2003-04, the enrollment went down by 66 students going from 1159 to 1093. There was no way to have predicted the 100 student lose this year.

When you look at per pupil costs and compare costs between districts there are three major reasons why Windham's is going to be hire than some other districts, particularly the wealthy districts. In wealthier districts the salaries are much higher and the buildings are more elaborate and more expensive to run. As a result you would expect the per pupil costs to be higher.

As I stated earlier our per pupil costs are too high and we are attempting to reduce them. However, Windham, like other poor districts, receive additional funds that wealthy districts either do not receive or do not receive much of. These funds must be spent for "restricted" purposes. The three funds are: 1. Disadvantaged Pupil Impact Aid (DPIA), 2. Title I, and 3. IDEA-B Special Education

DPIA funding is about $375,000 and is received because we have a large percentage of our students on state assistance, This money can only be spent on all-day kindergarten, student intervention outside of the regular classroom, reduced class size, etc. We cannot take this money and spend it on regular classroom or normal school operations.

TitleI funding at $367,000 may only be spent on student intervention beyond the regular classroom. As with DPIA we receive a significant amount because we have a large portion of our students on public assistance. We have six teachers who provide intervention in grades K-12 and are paid fully or partially through Title I.

IDEA-B funds part of the special education services that we are required to provide. This year we will receive $250,000 to help pay for special education services. We receive more than most other districts because a larger percentage of our students are special education. The average district has about 11% of its students in special education. We are at 17% and, as you know, the services are extremely expensive. This IDEA-B funding covers less than one fourth of the district's special education costs that are well over $1,000,000 per year. In one case the district must spend a little over $60,000 per year to educate one child with special needs and a second child is educated for $51,000 per year.

I hope this gives you a better picture of our per pupil costs.

It certainly would be nice to be able to use that DPEA, Title I, and IDEA-B money in our general fund, but we're not allowed by the state to do that. Turning to an area where the district is very concerned, what cuts have been made, and may be made to sports if the levy fails?

Since June 2003 the Board of Ed has been forced by the state to implement a financial recovery plan. The first and major part of the plan is to reduce expenditures. The Board has already cut $1.5 million and has more cuts to make. The second part of the plan is to increase revenue by $339,000 per year through the levy. In June 2003 over 90% of the budget went to personnel costs. Personnel costs should never exceed 80% because of funds needed for utilities, insurance, maintenance, repairs, supplies, etc.

The first round of cuts were made in areas that had the least negative impact upon academics. Since athletics are extra-curricular sports expenditures were reduced approximately $40,000. This reduction in sports costs represents only 2.7% of the total $1.5 million that was cut.

Will my beloved golf team be eliminated?

We have discussed the possible elimination of golf if the levy does not pass, but this proposal has not been included in the plan.

May the golf gods look down on you kindly. Getting back on point, what is going to happen concerning the sports whether the levy passes or fails?

The first thing I would recommend is that busing be restored to the pre Christmas vacation routes. I do not think that we can afford to replace the 19 coaching positions that were eliminated over the past two years. I would replace field trips only if they were tied to the state academics standards.

The important thing is that we will have to reduce even if the levy passes due to enrollment declines. We have plans to reduce five teaching positions even if the levy passes. If it fails we will have to reduce teaching positions. One preschool and home maintenance program would be eliminated along with several other positions. The class sizes thoughout the district would increase.

If the levy does not pass "pay to participate" will be instituted to alleviate the school district's general fund from paying in excess of $110,000 for coaches salaries and game transportation costs. These costs were over $150,000 prior to the staff reductions. At the junior and senior high levels we have approximately 200 students athletic slots with about 100 student participants. (Students often participate in more than one sport.) The general fund therefore pays approximately $550 per student athletic slot. This is an average cost and actually varies by sport. The Board has not discussed how much of this cost a parent would have to pick up. If the levy passes "pay to participate" will not be recommended.

Could we implement volunteer coaching to help the situation at all?

We do have many volunteer coaches who have stepped forward. At this point there are over 20. At almost every Board meeting volunteer coaches are approved. Keep in mind that they have to by law have BCI check clearance before they are allowed to work with students. Many of these volunteers have been doing this for years for no pay.

Any loose ends you'd like to tie up before we close here?

As far as the claim that we have two people doing one job, here is the answer. Prior to July 1, 2003 the district employed 4 maintenance workers, 1 mechanic, and 1 supervisor of maintenance and transportation. Today the district employs 1 maintenance person who, on occasion when needed, also does mechanic work. The district also employs 1 maintenance supervisor who also does maintenance work and 1 transportation supervisor who does the regular mechanic work. The state has invested $27 million in the new buildings and the residents invested $1 million. As a part of this investment the state has mandated that the district follow a strict maintenance schedule that is computerized and checked on periodically. This is a part of the maintenance supervisor's job. The state also mandates that district maintain its buses and record and report the maintenance via computer. The bottom line is that we now have 3 people doing what 6 were doing two years ago and the work is being performed effectively and much more efficiently.

Thank you for sitting down with me for this imaginary interview. I hope I've presented the thoughts you've posted in a proper manner. If there are any questions, drop a comment and I'll do my best to correct, or at least say hi or something.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Fulfilling your weekly Pork intake

Head on over to the Citizens Against Government Waste site for a listing of all the nice pork products that have been introduced in Congress recently. There's gotta be a way we can get Windham on the federal pork roll, there's just gotta be.

Citizens Against Government Waste


I'm a junkie for a lot of things. You could call me a political junkie, a sports junkie, a hot babe junkie, a religion junkie, or many other topical junkiness. For today though, I'm an astronomy junkie. I've always been fascinated by our galaxy, the night sky, and all things meteoriffic. The Hubble Space Telescope has been in orbit for fifteen years now. You likely recall all of the trouble that they had with it when they first put it into orbit, having to install what some people called glasses on it. Two beautiful images were released today celebrating the anniversary.

Those images are of the Whirlpool Galaxy and the Eagle Nebula. The level of detail that's been realized from the Hubble is simply incredible, far exceeding what I ever expected of it, which is the reason that I'm just a junkie, and not a scientist working on the project.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Blogging Manifesto

Adapted from Bill Hobbs recent article:

If my dream for the blogosphere were realized, there would be a slew of loggers reporting and commentating on every single niche of state government, local government, and the news media. Every town - your town - would have a local blogger who intensively covers local government.

If my dream for the blogosphere were realized, every single political reporter would be watch-dogged by at least two dedicated, prolific bloggers for errors, bias and key omissions.

If my dream for the blogosphere were realized, every elected official above the rank of sheriff would blog, and every last one of them would be watch-dogged by at least two bloggers.

If my dream for the blogosphere were realized, every public document at every level of government would be posted online in easily-searchable databases, accessible for free, so that the public (including bloggers) could see for themselves.

If my dream for the blogosphere were realized, there would be dozens if not hundreds of blogs by experts in such things as education, healthcare, business, culture, medicine, law, taxes, law enforcement, religion, constitutional rights, and many other topics.

If my dream for the blogosphere were realized, every significant newspaper would publish all of its stories online in blog format, filled with links to the documents and other resources they quote from or reference and links to the websites of the people and organizations they talk about - and with a functioning comments feature so that readers who don't have blogs could still respond.

If my dream for the blogosphere were realized, those same newspapers would never put their content in a paid-access-only archive, and it would never disappear from their archives.

If my dream for the blogosphere were realized, every newspaper would post bios of every reporter and editor online, so that bloggers could link to the bios of reporters whose work they are scrutinizing - so readers could have a better understanding of the expertise, the background and the possible biases of the reporters.

If my dream for the blogosphere were realized, journalists would view the publication or broadcast of their stories as closer to the beginning of the journalistic process than the end, and they would monitor the blogosphere and respond - in print, broadcast or at least online - to critiques of their stories, and to new relevant information surfaced by the blogosphere.

And if my dream for the blogosphere were realized, readers who read a blog regularly would occasionally drop $10 or $20 in the blogger's tip jar.

Quite right, and agreed.

And now for your weekend pick-me-up

Welcome to northeast Ohio folks. A couple of days ago, its was warm, the sun brightened our day, women began to wear those really cool tanktops that let you....uhh, it was a wonderful couple of days.

So naturally, it might snow this weekend.

Friday, April 22, 2005

If You're a Fan of Survivor...

You must read Jeff Harrell's summaries at The Shape of Days. The link goes to his summary for episode 10.

Top News Item!

Woman in Wendy's Finger Case Arrested

"Lies, lies, lies, that's all I am hearing," Ayala said after police started questioning her. "They should look at Wendy's. What are they hiding? Why are we being victimized again and again?"

As it turns out, Ayala has a litigious history. She has filed claims against several corporations, including a former employer and General Motors, though it is unclear from court records whether she received any money. She said she got $30,000 from El Pollo Loco after her 13-year-old daughter got sick at one of the chain's Las Vegas-area restaurants. But El Pollo Loco spokeswoman Julie Weeks said last week that the company reviewed Ayala's February 2004 claim and paid her nothing.

Earlier Thursday, Wendy's International Inc. announced it had ended its internal investigation, saying it could find no credible link between the finger and the restaurant chain.

I'm guessing she should have said, "Lies, lies, lies, that's all I am telling."

The Best News I've Heard All Week

Go ahead and eat that Big Mac. Have two if you like.

From TechCentralStation

The real answer, however, is to be found in a companion article also published in JAMA. It notes that despite the fact that Americans have supposedly gotten fatter, the prevalence of high cholesterol level, and high blood pressure -- in short the risk factors for cardiovascular disease -- have declined. Even the prevalence of diabetes, the authors note, remained stable. So given that the prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors has declined and the rate of diabetes has stayed stable, it is impossible for so-called obesity-related deaths to increase.

In a world without junk science, results like these would mark the end of the supposed obesity epidemic that is killing us by the thousands. Unfortunately the public health community is already busily discounting the CDC's numbers and telling us that whatever the science says, fat kills. Don't count on it.
Those are the last two paragraphs in the article, and its the last one that I find the most interesting. We've been too long fed the idea that no matter what we eat, it could likely kill us. Remeber the cycle of "eggs good, no wait, eggs are bad, umm, we made a mistake, eggs are good again, paging Dr. Atkins, paging Dr. Atkins." There seems to be a lot of contrived science out there that people are pushing because they have an agenda. Be it obesity, global warming, ANWAR, or whatever else, people "ooh" and "aah" when a scientist has anything to say about it. The evidence produced is not always the best collected evidence. Much like economics, scientific numbers can be skewed to make my ideas look good.

Pass the salt.

But, I deserve it...

I'd mentioned a bit ago that I'd throw in a post about this entitlement society that we've developed around us. Well here it is.

There are people around us who need help. Some are desperate for it. One of the reasons that we have a collective government is to collectively help one another, at least that's one of the powers that we've given to it. A governmental welfare system is not a bad thing, but the methods of implementing such a thing can be. This is where most of the discussion falls when it comes to this arena. That's not what this post is about though.

One of the unfortunate outgrowths of any kind of helping program, whether set up by the state government, local government, churches, private organizations, or whomever is that there is a section of society which I term "takers". The takers in society seek ways to get along in life without having to put much, if any, effort in at all. If there is a free handout to be had, they are there. It is this "taker" mentality that ruins good programs such as welfare and financial assistance. Of course, this is nothing new, the federal government has been battling this for years.

We battle this here in Windham though, and perhaps more than we think. There are many organizations in the area who willingly help people, many times without question. There's the Salvation Army collecting change and donating food to people, the Church of Christ out on Wolf Road that has some clothing assistance, Shepherd's Joy helps those who need it, the Catholic church has its financial assistance programs to help with paying bills. These groups (and many others) are stretched thin because of the multitude of people making requests for assistance. Sometimes its the same people month after month. Perhaps we should be asking ourselves why? What is it about Windham that separates it from other communities that cause them to have less need than we have here? Is it the local economy? Is it the lack of public transportation way up here in the northeast corner of Portage County? Or is it a far more troubling problem?

Have some of us forgotten how to make a living?

We've all heard stories of the guy who lives in his parents' basement until he's 32 because he doesn't want to get a real job. Who knows if its actually true? I personally know of many situations where a man doesn't have a job because he never quite finds the time to go out and find one. He's depressed himself into believing that there's nothing out there that "fits" him. My dad worked in a steel mill for thirty years and never really liked his job. They went on strike a couple of times, which made things hard. He did it anyway, because he knew that he had a family to take care of. He had been taught that you don't always get to do what you want to do, and sometimes you just have to suck it up and do what you don't like. The "takers" don't see it that way.

For them, the world owes them something, perhaps just for gracing all of us with their presence. It is not too much of a shift from "at least I know I can go to them for help" over to "you've helped me before, now I need more". Has there been any effort to improve the situation from month to month? There's something to be said for being satisfied with how life is right now, but at the same time, we should not stop striving to improve ourselves. I think that this is the solution to the problem.

We have to try to make our tomorrow better than our today.

Inherent in the solution is another problem though. How do we get people who have neglected to improve themseves to start once again? Is ending the assistance the quick fix to the problem? In some cases, yes. In others, definitely no. There's no easy answer for that problem. I wish I had it really.

I guess that's why we're all here. We want to learn, and hopefully, in the learning process, we can take the good advice, filter out all the nonsense, and make our tomorrow better. Take the time to convince someone else to do the same tomorrow.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I read this book years ago in high school and it was funny, though way over my head. Last year, I had the opportunity (through a job which involved very very little work from me) to reread this book, and the entire series by Douglas Adams, and found it over-the-top funny. It has the random observations on life, clever asides, and outrageous situations that thoroughly entertain my simple mind.

There are days where I wake up and look at the clock which reads 7:42 am and think, "Will today be the day that the earth is blown up to make way for an exit ramp?" Then I realize, "No, you live in Windham, and there's your own little bypass about five miles down the road, even though Yahoo Maps says that you need to park your car on the Turnpike and jump the fence to get to your house." But then I think to myself, "Really, you're overanalyzing things, get up, have some toast, watch Sportscenter, realize how mundane your life generally is, and go back to bed for another hour."

But of course, that's wishful thinking.

Get the book though, its pretty good.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Enjoyable smells

Drive-by blogging!

Don't you just love the smell that follows a rainshower? I do. I heard one time that its ozone that's created as something or other takes place. I have no idea really, but I can't think of a better smell to get me outside to do the work that I was supposed to do last week.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ten Years Ago...

It was ten years ago that the Oklahoma City bombing occurred. I remember that day, sitting in front of the television as I was getting ready for school watching the horrible scenes of that building with a gaping hole in it. I heard the reports of the Day Care Center that was destroyed in the blast. Many rumors flew that day about who would have done it. Even yet today, there are questions about the full scope of who was involved.

While looking back though, I ran across an article written in early 1995 by Pro. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame.

January 30, 1995 Monday, NORTH SPORTS FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 771 words


BYLINE: By Glenn Harlan Reynolds, an associate professor of law at the University of Tennessee.

Recently, a steady drumbeat of print reports and network news stories has given national attention to what many in the South and West already knew: that some Americans are arming themselves and organizing into militia companies. Part of a so-called "Patriot Movement" that some number at 5 million members, the militia movement is estimated by press accounts as having somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000 members under arms. Their fear, based on all sorts of rumors about "black helicopters" and foreign forces maneuvering in remote areas, is that the feds, perhaps in conjunction with the United Nations, will seize their guns and establish a "new world order" dictatorship that will take control over their lives. Some are even talking about armed revolt.

Militia members believe their actions are authorized by the U.S. Constitution. They're silly to worry about the UN, which can't even handle the Serbs. They're half right about the Constitution-but the part they have wrong could mean trouble. Militia advocates point to the Constitution's 2nd Amendment, which addresses the right to keep and bear arms, and to the framers' general views in favor of an armed citizenry as a check on tyrants. Here they're on solid ground. There is no question that the framers supported an armed citizenry as a way of preventing tyrannical government.

But the militia groups haven't thought about how the framers defined tyrannical government. The fact is that though there is plenty to complain about with regard to the expansion of government in the last half-century, just about all of it was with the acquiescence-and often the outright endorsement-of the electorate. That makes a big difference. Although many militia supporters can quote the framers at great length on the right to bear arms, few seem aware that the framers also put a lot of effort into distinguishing between legitimate revolutions-such as the American Revolution- and mere "rebellions" or "insurrections." The former represented a right, even a duty, of the people. The latter were illegitimate, mere outlawry. The framers developed a rather sophisticated political theory for distinguishing between the two.

The most important aspect of this theory was representation. Those who were not represented lacked the citizen's duty of loyalty. A government that taxed its citizens without representation was thus no better than an outlaw, and citizens enjoyed the same right of resistance against its officers as they possessed against robbers.

But revolting against taxation without representation is not the same thing as revolting against taxation, period. Like it or not, the government we have now is the government that most citizens at least thought they wanted.

If you want to know what the framers considered grounds for revolt, read the list of complaints about George III in the Declaration of Independence.

The framers understood what a dangerous thing a revolution was. They embarked on their effort with trepidation, and they would not have been surprised to learn that most revolutions that came after theirs either failed or produced a new tyranny worse than the old. They knew that once let out, the genie of revolution often proves both destructive and hard to rebottle. As the militia movement says, the framers did believe in the right to revolution. But they believed that such strong medicine was a last resort against tyranny. Today's militia members would be better advised to organize a new political party, or to work at increasing voter turnout.

Such counsel may seem bland beside the very real romance of revolution. But those on the political right (from which most, though not all, of the militia movement comes) should know better than to yield to that romance. Ever since the idolization of Che Guevara, a large chunk of the American left has succumbed to revolutionary romance, while those on the right have focused on workaday politics. The relative fortunes of those two movements over the last 25 years, especially after November's elections, suggest which approach works.

Having said this, I also have a cautionary note for those who are not part of the militia movement. When large numbers of citizens begin arming against their own government and are ready to believe even the silliest rumors about that government's willingness to evade the Constitution, there is a problem that goes beyond gullibility. This country's political establishment should think about what it has done to inspire such distrust--and what it can do to regain the trust and loyalty of many Americans who no longer grant it either.
One of my basic drumbeats is the power that the American people have granted to them. Our freedom is our greatest strength, and it should be our greatest treasure. Let those who would dare meddle with it know and understand that we will always defend this great blessing.

For us in Windham, we have a government that we have set in place. As Glenn says above, at the time, we thought it was the best for us. Perhaps it was then, perhaps it still is today. Above all though, we are represented by the people whom we elect.


Just FYI for those of you wondering. I'd not realized that the default settings on Blogger made commenters register. I've turned it off. If you want to comment, argue, complain, or praise (and you know you do) what's being said, have at it!

Monday, April 18, 2005


As you may have already noticed, I absolutely adore history. By no means am I a buff or anything, I'm simply fascinated by ages gone by. Whether we're considering the events of the Village of Windham from twenty years ago or talking about the travels of Christopher Columbus in the late 1400's, I love to hear about it.

Today, I'm enthralled by what's going on in the Vatican with the Conclave of the Cardinals and their election of the next Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. I'm not a Roman Catholic, never plan to be actually, all of the pomp and circumstance seems a bit empty when it comes serving the Almighty. Its the methodology of the whole thing that is interesting. Black smoke, white smoke, secret balloting, the influence of one person over many people and the desire to obtain or refuse that position, its reality television at its best. Who wouldn't want to be a fly on the wall of that Conclave just to see what's going on in there?

Are they quietly discussing the best candidates? Are they shouting one another down in support of their favorite? Are they playing Bingo, the favorite pasttime of many an old Catholic lady?

Regardless, in a day or two, the world will have their new Pope. Definitely a he, likely a white European, generally conservative, and touting the Roman Catholic line in every portion. Good for them, I'm happy. Yee ha. Perhaps I tend to be a bit cynical in some of this, because of the recent election. Do you think that some Cardinals will be put off by the new guy, because they didn't vote for him? I doubt it really, but it is an interesting question.

It wouldn't necessarily be out of the realm of possiblity. When you look backward into history, you find all kinds of interesting things about the Papal line, especially around the turn of the first millenium A.D. Its got everything! Murder! Scandal! Intrigue! Pregnancy! (Gasp!) Believe me, many books have been written about such things. They are all interesting reads if you get the chance.

So while you're undoubtedly dashing off to the Windham library to check out one of these books, I'll be sitting in the easy chair watching another round of black smoke roll out of a metal pipe. And there was much rejoicing.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Power We Give People

...and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

I wish I could write something as insightful as that. Lincoln's address at Gettysburg after that great Civil War battle has lasted through the ages for a reason. Its a basic statement about the amazing government that was set up by a handful of men who desired to control their own destinies without an overbearing government getting in the way. On the national scale, its an easier statement to apply than on the local scale though.

The local scope is the place that we have our closest relationship to any type of government, outside of our own homes. In our instance, it is a Village Council; in others, its Township Trusteeship, or even Community Elders. In each case though, the representative body is elected by the larger electorate (and for the purposes of this post, the larger electorate shall be referred to as "us").

It has never been intended that our government be a case of "them" against "us". We are vital to the process of selecting people to serve in governmental positions. Those people whom we elect to those positions are responsible for each decision that they make while representing us. I have the right to look at each person on Village Council and ask myself, "Do I want Marko Polo representing me and my ideas?" I must take into account past decisions that have been made by incumbents and guage them against the decisions that other candidates say that they would make and vote accordingly. (I'll mention in passing that this is one of the reasons why I personally was put off by the decision to select Jim Moore as Village Council President. While Village Council does have the right to select someone to fill a vacant seat, my preference would have been to leave the seat open until the next scheduled election date and let the voters decide. But that's all the past, nothing we can do now but look to the future.) These people whom we have selected therefore must hear the words of the voters, as I've mentioned before in the Levy And Conscience post.

If you are disappointed in something, get involved. Don't allow yourself to become cynical and think that you don't have any say in the process. A lot of white haired guys a couple hundred years ago would have been frightened by that attitude. Millions of men have died to protect that right that you would consider squandering. These people are those to whom you've given power.

And you can take it away too.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


You know, kids today have so much with which to deal. Peer pressure to do all sorts of nonsense. Schoolwork. The constant search for someone to make googley eyes with between classes at school. The nonsense that follows that googley eye thing. Oh dear, we can't expect them to handle all that can we?

Wait a minute here. How much has really changed? Sure, perhaps we've found new ways to delve into the nonsense, but what is really different when when you or I were in school? Granted, teens are pairing off about two years earlier than they did thirty years ago, but still, the sex drive is the same, the rebelliousness is still the same, and the peer pressure is still the same.

Of course, kids today don't like to hear that. I didn't either when I was that age. I was so much different than my dad and mom. They were too old to understand what I was going through at the time. I've since learned that Dad was a much worse person than I was at that time. He knew better than I had any idea what I was going through. But at the time? He was totally clueless.

Our problem today is that we adults think that we can make it all better for our kids. I think it is a natural thing for people to want to give their children a better life than they did when they were children themselves. We don't want to see our children to make the same mistakes that we did. It makes total sense. One thing we overlook though is that those mistakes that we made way back when are the defining points that developed the character that we have today. Go back in your own life and change one of those regretful events in your past. Imagine how your life would actually be rather than the pie-in-the-sky ideas that we would wish that our lives could be. Did you learn from that situation where you failed miserably? Do your actions today reflect upon that event, or has it somehow influenced the decisions that you've made in the past?

Take sports for an example. There is a contingent of parents (not local hopefully) that believe that all sports should have scoring done away with. You see, keeping score leads to someone winning and someone losing. If someone loses, that makes them feel badly, and that cannot be allowed to happen to a developing child. We can't hurt their fragile egos. Its an old adage in the "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip that has Calvin's dad telling him that some of his chores "build character". Its the truth! We do things that we don't like, go through things that we'd rather not go through, so that we can develop to be able to deal with things in the real world! Shall we caress the head of the young boy all through his teenage years, only to unleash him doe-eyed into a college existence where people certainly have been exposed to all kinds of things. Will our protection of him while young continue to protect him while he is older, or will it lead to his personal destruction, as he is forced to learn how to deal with a world that doesn't care whether he is part of it or not.

We need to be strong believers in our children. They can certainly deal with much more than we usually expect. They need to be protected, but not coddled.

Spring Cleaning?

A good point was made on the Windham Discussion Forum this evening about the Streets department (or whomever) cleaning up main street. It truly is amazing how much just a little cleanliness can do to make an area look nicer.

Of late, I've also heard of volunteers going through the projects and picking up trash. This is a great service to the community, and even greater is that people who care about their own community are taking their extra time (and who really has any of that anymore?) to do something for someone else. In a day and age, and even a community, that seems at times to only be out for themselves, its refreshing to see people look out for someone else.

I'll not start into a rant about an entitlement society and how it devalues people. One of these days though.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Its April 15! Wheeee!

Have you paid your 1.5%?

In the "News You Need to Know" file

Britney's baby is going to be a girl.

Paris Hilton is looking for someone new to be on "The Simple Life" with her.

Coby was voted out last night on Survivor: Palau

Michael Jackson needs to be deported back to his home planet.

You need to see the movie "Sahara". Remember the first Indiana Jones flick?

Download the Firefox internet browser. Do your part to make Bill Gates' day a little worse.

Politicians have a tendency to give kickbacks to those who are close to them. Oh wait, that's not news you need to know, its something that's blatantly obvious.

If anyone would actually investigate the UN's "Oil for Food" program, it would destroy the multinational body.

McDonalds has been hardening arteries for 50 years! Have a Big Mac to celebrate.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005



One of these days I'm going to post a listing of all the websites that I frequent during a typical day. Its quite a long list anymore, so I don't have the time to really get into all the news of the day, but this one is just odd enough to let you all know about. If you haven't checked it out before, you should be interested by it.

The creators of the blog invite people to send them a postcard with a deep secret written on it. It is totally anonymous, which lends people to be more open in their writing, as noted by some of the incredible secrets that are posted on the site.

Check it out!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Levy and Conscience

I'm torn. We all realize that our school are in serious trouble. There are teachers being let go, administrators being forced out because of lack of pay, school field trips have been cancelled because of the low funding of the schools.

We all want to blame someone for our troubles.

Some blame the state, who mandated erecting buildings that are outrageously expensive to maintain. Some blame the school board, who, to some degree, went along with the state to build these buildings, and have misappropriated funds in the past. Some blame those without children or have had their children already graduate the schools, because they don't care anymore and won't vote for a new levy.

I can understand the frustration of the people who care about the school system (I'm one of them). Schools play a vital role in our society, and they can work either to the positive or to the negative. A school system with effective teachers, knowledgable administrators, and most important, involved parents creates a great opportunity for growth in the community. Children in such a situation are encouraged to learn and shown the importance of it everywhere they turn. On the other hand, ineffective teachers, turnover in administration, and apathetic parents create cynicism within children. They see that no one thinks its all that impotant that they learn anything, just that they get through it all and get out of town when its all over. It leads to a dead-end community.

Consider the reasons why people are voting against levies. First, how does my vote against a levy "get back" at the state who mandated these buildings? Does our state government say, "Boy, they really got us, we funded those buildings for them, and now they won't pay for them. There's egg on our face now." The majority of our state representatives don't even know where Windham is, much less care about its upkeep.

Second, certainly the school board could have made better decisions in certain areas over the last five years. Other school districts that have fallen on hard times immediately cut funding to extra-curricular programs, such as athletic events, making them "pay to play". Most of those school districts forded their way through those hard times within a couple of years, rather than what may be a protracted struggle here in our district. There is an attitude of "cutting where it doesn't hurt" that should actually be "cutting where it hurts, but doesn't impact academics". I love baseball. Its my favorite sport and I played it (well, at least the bench) when I was in High School. Sports are not why we send our children to school. They are there to learn the tools that will guide them through life. Sports can be a part of that, but it is primarily done in the classroom.

Also, if we disagree with what the school board does, there's a built-in checks and balances system called Election Day. If I don't like what one, two, or the entire board does, I can vote against them in the next election and elect someone to the office that I think would be a better decisionmaker. If they're making bad decisions, convince other people and replace them when you get the chance. It does not make sense to vote against a levy, when in six months, you may have an entirely new School Board. What makes more sense is to vote for a levy, so that the new board that is voted in next time around has the flexibility to make the right decisions with the funding of the schools, and is not scrambling to clean up any mess that was left behind by the previous administration.

The third reason that some people vote against the levy is understandable to a degree. The attitude that has been developed in recent years is "I used the system, and paid for it at the time, now I don't use it, so I don't need to pay for it." It would seem that when my children graduate from high school, I have no need for the school system anymore. But that is not the case. As we noticed above, an effective school system is a beneficial thing to a community. Did you know that one of the factors in predicting future crime rates in a community is to look at the literacy rate of third grade children? If there is a low literacy rate, statistics show that the future crime trend is higher - the higher literacy rate, the lower the crime rate. There is a greater reason to vote for a levy than just to get my own children to learn. We have the ability to impact the future of Windham in voting for the levy.

We support this levy, and encourage people to get involved in the process of deciding how the finances are put to use. Voice your opinion at School Board meetings. Elect an effective School Board when you get the opportunity. The Board is accountable for every decision that they make, and they are accountable to you.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Weekly news from people who aren't me.

Most likely to show up on The Villager's site sometime soon, because it is in the paper released today.

"Because of computer system problems, the March 2005 water/sewer utility billing will not be mailed until April 15. As a result, residents can pay their bill without penalty until April 30. Meanwhile, payments will be accepted at the Village Office. Anyone with questions may call 330-326-3633, ext. 5."

Glitches in computer systems happen all the time. Many people make a great deal of money diagnosing and repairing software problems like this one every day. When it becomes habitual is the time to become concerned. Has the turnover in the Village Office had detrimental effects? Who's to say? Let's just hope that these problems will quickly go away as we move past all these recent issues with which the village has been dealing.

"Library Week in Windham - April 10-16

The Windham LIbrary invites everyone to drop in an visit during National Library Week, April 10-16. Children will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite book character and the results will be posted in the library..."

And Harry Potter wins again. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

"Circus of Services - April 20

Come join the fun on Wednesday evening, April 20, at Windham Head Start.... This year our annual 'Community Awareness Day' will have a circus games...prizes, and much more for the kids.... This free event is from 4:30 -6:30 pm. For more information call 330-326-3739."

Perhaps you didn't know, but Windham's Head Start program is one of the better ones in the county, even though other programs in larger towns keep raiding our teachers and administrators. It's a testiment to the local faculty, and also the parents of these children that the program continues, and with success. If you do have a little bit of time on the 20th, stop down and offer a word of encouragement to these fine workers.

From Opinions to Suggestions

How many times have you heard the phrase, "Boy, I just don't know about this town" or "I can't believe Council/the Board/the Mayor did that, what were they thinking?" I know I've heard it plenty of times in my stay here in the village. Everyone certainly has an opinion. That's actually a good thing. It shows that there is some level of understanding, or at least a desire to have some level of understanding, even if its based on one side of the story. We all have our opinions upon what has happened in the past and what is currently happening in the village, schools, Volunteer Fire Department, Hot Stove teams, and Police Department. Very few people have problems voicing that opinion either. Perhaps you haven't noticed, but some folks are voicing said opinions at the Windham TalkForum Message Board. Join in, its fun, even though you want to knock your head into a wall after reading all of the drive-by guest (troll) postings.

One thing that we are desperately short of is ideas. Oh sure, the pat answer is that "we need more business", but how exactly should we draw those business to the village? Do we think that simply because we want them here, they'll magically come calling? Many people seem to be in agreement that "Council needs to draw manufacturing jobs to the area." Perhaps the magic answer will suddenly be revealed to one of the six from on high in a moment of epiphany. It hasn't seemed to happen yet though.

While we all wait for someone to have a vision, let's consider a few things.

1. City Council needs to take it upon themselves, or delegate the responsibility to a group of people of their selection who will look directly into the situation of "why we are where we are". Council certainly already has enough on their plate concerning day to day business, dealing with the Township Trustees, and the various propblems that arise during the course of running a village. There is no reason for them to compound their work by adding this responsibility to theirs. This new group would be made up of people who earnestly desire the growth of every part of Windham, and not simply one part (education, job opportunities, housing contracts, and the like).

This group would be charged with considering all factors of the community, including infrastructure, the working people, the education level of those who work, business sites, competition, the political situation, life styles of village citizens. In looking at all of these factors, they should be able to come to some conclusions about a direction to go in the village.

The group should also be voluntary. It should be made up of people who sincerely want the village to grow, for the good of the village, and not their own selves. As we said before, many are willing to offer their opinions, but stepping up to the plate and doing something is another matter entirely.

2. We need to avoid the "poor me" attitude that is so easy to fall into. Everyone has problems. Did you know that there is more Federal help available to rural areas than for urban areas? We can tap into that, if someone steps up and finds out exactly what is available.

We need to rid ourselves of the "us versus them" mentality and political nonsense. Blustering from either side always ends badly.

3. We need to "think globally, and act locally." We have the entire world at our doorstep through the Internet, or at least our keyboards as it were. The only thing that can restrict us from reaching out somehow is ourselves.

Certainly these are just ideas. Suggestions of where one mind thinks that could lead in a positive direction. You have many more ideas, perhaps better ones. Voice those opinions, and work to make them a reality. Build a consensus by convincing people of your stand, and why it is the right thing to do. People are willing and ready to listen.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Mightiest Fire Hydrant

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This amazing fire hydrant on Short has refused to be fixed by the Windham Water Department. Actually, it seems as if no one has taken the time to actually repair the leaky fixture. As seen in the picture above, it has been wrapped with duct tape and what looks to be a plastic trash bag.

A rough estimation shows that this hydrant is losing about a gallon of water a minute. Neighbors say that it has been "nearly a year" since the hydrant began to leak. Taking an extremely conservative estimate of beginning in September, our figures show that this wimpy wimpy wimpy repair has allowed three hundred thousand (300,000) gallons of water to flow into the city drainage system.

Stop by sometime and admire this amazing, mighty little fire hydrant.

Monday, April 04, 2005

A New Voice

We welcome you to the online edition of the Windhamite. This will be our internet home for at least the short term, and likely longer than that. We hope to be able to post here daily as to what we're working on, upcoming events, and other things that we feel are important to the citizens of our little town.

Comments will be open on all issues, but we do reserve the right to delete any inflammatory posts as we are seeking a discussion based upon the facts of each situation, rather than heated arguments over personal issues. This community deserves more than our own personal axes to grind.