Saturday, December 22, 2012


A "nonsense" coin produced by the US Mint - click to enlarge
Photo" AP
  It costs eleven cents to make a nickel, and 2 cents to make a penny; that ain't good math.  The U S Mint is now in the process of trying out new materials. 
  The metals used now; copper (in every coin), nickel (in all except the penny) are expensive.  There are 80 metals and four of them are less expensive than the metals used now.  Aluminum, Lead, Iron and Zinc are less costly than the metals used now.  Lead is out for obvious reasons.  The Mint is playing with the others to make new alloys or "sandwich" metals (like quarters and dimes now).  Copper is used now in all coins because of its electro-magnetic qualities, that is what is needed in vending machines.  To change vending machines to work a different way would cost up to 3.5 billion dollars - if the copper was missing.  Personally I don't think I've used a vending machine in over 30 years, maybe we could scrap them (just a thought).
  Canada has stopped making pennies and have removed them from circulation, it saved 14 billion dollars over a ten year period.  Something to think about.  Nickels could be made from aluminum I don't think they are used in vending machines (?).
  Does this make "cents"?
A new "quarter" maybe? -click
Photo: AP
A penny maybe. - click
Photo: AP

Friday, December 21, 2012

It is not a noxious weed

The Kansas state flower
Photo: Jaime Greene, The Wichita Eagle
  In 1895 the Sunflower was declared a noxious weed.  The Kansas Legislature wanted it cleared from the State.  Eight years later it was declared the State flower, and Kansas become known as The Sunflower State.
  There are a lot of sunflowers in Kansas, but North Dakota grows more than any other state, and the cooking oil and bird seed companies are grateful.  Personally I just like to look at them, the plant not the seeds.
  I do see that a lot of people will grow a small patch and at least one farm, in Newport, grows a small commercial crop of sunflowers.  Click on photos to enlarge
A crop near Hutchinson, Kansas
Photo: Jaime Greene, Wichita Eagle
A Kansas roadsign speaks for itself.
Photo: Jaime Green,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's cold in Ohio

January 21, 1977 people walk from Kentucky to Cincinnati on the
frozen Ohio River, a dangerous thing to do. - click to enlarge The Cincinnati Enquirer
  I mentioned yesterday that my family lived in Ohio for a few years, the last three years of my high school life.  I entered the 10th grade at Woodward High in Cincinnati; there were more students in that school than in the whole town we moved from.  I remember being sent to a speech therapist because I talked funny.  She had me read two paragraphs and said "there's nothing wrong with your speech, you're from Maine!".  Embarrassed me though.
  We lived in Swifton Village a housing complex.  Turns out it was the first property Donald Trump received from his father.
  We moved to Milford, Ohio for the next two years, a small town (then) it was much better.  I got a job through the school at Bob Williams Oldsmobile-Chevrolet dealership.  I worked with the service manager a couple of days, the parts department a couple of days and one day (Wednesday) with the accountant doing payroll.  That job had prepared me for all of the jobs I've had since.
January 2009, cold again as fog comes off the warmer water at
the "Town Landing".  The Majestic Show Boat is seen. The Cincinnati Enquirer
Geese on Cedar Lake in Warren County Ohio. November 2009. The Cincinnati Enquirer

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dying mills and dye jobs

An old photo of the Biddeford Mills
  Back in what seems like a long time ago Maine had thriving textile factory centers, Biddeford was among them along with across the river neighbor Saco.  Cloth for military uniforms (Saco), blankets for the United States Navy(Biddeford), upholstery material for the auto industry(Sanford), if it was cloth Maine could make it.  Those cities and towns just mentioned are but a tip of the iceberg.
  Then came tax deals with the southern states, a desire to move closer to the cotton farms, but mostly the tax deals, it's always about the money.  Maine collapsed, employment was gone south.  The 1950s were brutal times in Maine.  My own family moved to Ohio for a few years so Dad could work.
  Forward to today.  There are more farms in Maine today then there ever were.  Most farms in Maine produce food crops like vegetables or fruit, but a large number produce fiber.  There are a large number of sheep, rabbits, goats and alpaca grown for fiber.
  Fiber needs to be (among other things) cleaned, carded, spun into yarn or thread.  It also needs to be available in different colors.  Enter a portion of one of the Biddeford mills.
  The Saco River Dye House is in operation to make those yarns any color people want.  In the end, if things work out, twenty thousand pounds of fiber will be processed.  Click to enlarge the photos.
Don Morton the dye master carries yarn to a water extractor after dyeing.
Shawn Ouelette/ Photo

Yarns are dried.
Photo: Shawn Ouelette/
Samples of the finished product.
Photo: Shawn Ouelette/

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Other things on the water

The Wagner House, one of the houseboats in Seattle,
it's on the National Register of Historic Places. - click to enlarge
  When I lived in Seattle I worked at the computer center for Seattle First National Bank.  My workplace was right on Lake Union and I would always look out and see the houseboats.  I always wanted to live on one.  But now there is trouble in Paradise.  The City of Seattle has found that a number of the newer home exceed eighteen feet in height.  That is against the rules.
This is a naughty house - too tall. 
Photo: City of Seattle via
  The newer homes even look out of place to me.  I understand that some folks need more room, but they could always move on land to a regular house I guess.
  Here are a few more views:
Back in the day, all homes were sort of like this.
The City of Seattle used this photo to show what
height houseboats should be.
Photo: City of Seattle, via

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas on the water

Rounding the point.  12th Annual Holiday Parade of Boat Lights. click to enlarge
Photo: Tom Greenway
  Yesterday the dog owners today some boat owners who celebrate while at the same time raising money for SailMaine safety courses.
  The Boats, full of light, cruise Portland, Maine harbor.  In the photo above the boats round Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, probably a turn-around point in the cruise. 
   I would love to see this in person, but these photos may still be the best views.
Fireworks displays light up the boats in Portland Harbor. click to enlarge
Tom Greenway photo

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's not all that different

12th Annual Reindog Parade, Cincinnati - click to enlarge photo
  Just when you think you've seen it all....well, you haven't.  People all over the world are inventive and give much thought to finding new ways to celebrate.  Dog lovers are included in that group.  Most often groups of dog lovers will get together to think up new things to do.  I am positive that the group in Cincinnati is no different.  It's just "what can we do together, with the dogs?".
  So here it is, the 12th Annual Reindog Parade, held recently.
Cha-cha, the Snow Queen

Hobbs and Guiness