Some Signs I’d Like to See

by Curt Kovener

Those of you who call the newspaper and leave a message with our electronic secretary or perhaps you see some of our ads know that we promote ourselves as “The Best Little Paper In Town!” And now, according to the United State Postal Service we are also “The largest weekly newspaper in Jackson County!”
Some years back the local dry cleaning service, we used to advertise “You can drop your pants here.”
Which got me to thinking about some other sign/slogan possibilities for area businesses.
Perhaps Lee Tire & 4×4 should claim their customers come to them “To be retired”.
Maybe Dorsey’s Auto Body Shop should ask: “May we have the next dents?”
How about on S&L Electric’s truck: “Let us remove your shorts.”
At Scott County Tire where they fix and replace mufflers & exhaust pipes: “No appointment necessary. We’ll hear you coming.”
Maybe Jackson County REMC should say: “We would be delighted if you pay your electric bill. However, if you don’t, you will be.”
At noontime on the door of Redneck Computers, the local computer store might be found: “Out for a quick byte.”
On the maternity room door at Schneck Medical Center: “Push, Push, Push.”
Maybe in the front yard of Adams Funeral Home: “Drive carefully, we’ll wait.”
Or how about at Rick Clark’s Auto Repair where you can get a radiator fixed: “Best place in town to take a leak.”
Maybe a sign in the window of Wilson’s Diner in Freetown should read: “Don’t stand there and be hungry, come in and get fed up.”
The Peoples Bank is known for some pretty good rates for auto loans. Perhaps their time & temperature sign could read: “The best way to get back on your feet—miss a car payment.”
Maybe found in the Brownstown Animal Hospital waiting room: “Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!”
Crothersville School is a non-smoking area. So maybe they ought to have posted: “If we see you smoking we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action.”
On the side of Rumpke’s garbage trucks they could claim: “We’ve got what it takes to take what you’ve got.”
What we really need is an optometrist in town so the eye Doc’s sign could read: “If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.”

What’s In A Name…

by Curt Kovener

My high school English teacher Corean Lewis tried very hard to teach us the proper use of the language. She was exceptionally patient with me.
For all of the rules of English, of grammar, of spelling she tried to impart on us, I have found from over 40 years in the writing and newspaper business that there are two exceptions for every one of her rules.
Richard Lederer has a Ph.D. in linguistics and has written books on the confusing, crazy and anguish of the English language.
We will first look at the confusing history of some words and phrases that you may only thought you knew.
In what country did Pennsylvania Dutch originate? Germany—where the language is Deutsch.
French fries were invented in Belgium. Frenching describes a method of cutting vegetables into long strips.
Arabic numbers are not Arabic but invented in India.
Turkish baths originated in Rome not Turkey.
Panama hats weren’t originated in Panama but in the South American country of Ecuador.
The English horn is a reed instrument, an alto oboe invented in France.
Welsh rabbit is a meatless dish whose primary ingredient is cheese.
Egg Cream does not contain eggs or cream but is made from milk, chocolate syrup and a spritz of seltzer water.
Sweetbread is not sweet nor a bread; it is a cooked part of calf’s pancreas. Sweetmeat is not a meat but is candied fruit and is sweet.
Despite the name, refried beans are not fried twice. Frijoles refritos actually means well fried not refried.
In dry cleaning, all material is immersed in a liquid solution.
And since we are approaching that seasonal time of the year, the primary cause of hay fever is not hay but pollen.
Perhaps we should end this week’s discussion of our confusing language with a poem (another literary subject of which Mrs. Lewis was quite fond).
“No matter what their name alleges,
Hedgehogs aren’t hogs or hedges
Like kindred quadrupeds with spines
Who aren’t porks and aren’t pines.”

The Battle Is Ongoing; The War Will Never Be Won

by Curt Kovener

The brown wilderness hills and valleys are greening up. And that is my sign to get to work.
The first plant life to leaf out in the forests after winter are invasives. The one’s that you don’t want taking over: plants like multiflora rose and autumn olive. They both turn green before the native ground level flora so they are easily seen to try to control. Wait too long then everything is green and work becomes more difficult.
In spring green up, I use my long handle loppers and a small spray bottle of herbicide. The long handle loppers keep me away from the always-prickly rose thorns. The leaves may be tender but the cat claw-like thorns are always looking for an arm, a leg, or face. So sometimes I still am successful at getting tangled in the barbed wire like strands after cutting the invasive stalk near the ground.
After untanglement, a sprits or two from the herbicide bottle on the invasive stump should curtail future growth for the coming season.
But there will be more. There will always be more. That is why these plants are called invasives.
Their origin in Indiana is interesting…though the originators don’t like to talk about it.
Back in the 1930’s multiflora rose was recommended to cattle farmers as a way to reduce fence repair and contain their herds by planting a living fence. The problem was that when Purdue University made that recommendation, they forgot to tell the multiflora rose it was supposed to stay in the fence row.
The autumn olive was promoted as a wildlife food source and a butterfly attracting plant. And it does both quite well. It was endorsed by the Indiana DNR and included in their forestry wildlife planting packets distributed by the DNR Nursery in Vallonia. That’s how I got it started in the wilderness.
Birds eat the olive size fruit and then distribute the seed wherever they roost. That explains why I see abundant autumn olive growing along the understory of trees along the edge of the forest.
So my continual battle with these two invasives will be never ending. And as I cut and sprits, I contemplate just what other ‘helpful’ recommendations Purdue and DNR have in store for us.

I Don’t Mean To Bore You, But…

by Curt Kovener

(This week we reached back into the Curt Comments archives for an encore writing.)
Have you ever noticed how diametrically opposed we sometimes speak?
When someone says, “Not to change the subject, but…” what is the next thing they do? They change the subject.
And when someone says “I don’t want to start an argument, but…” whereupon an intense, heated discussion of opinions erupts.
Then there are times when I am engrossed in some activity—reading, watching TV, working on the computer—Becky comes to me saying “I don’t want to disturb you but…” and then what she says disturbs me.
Or worse, when she says, “Now I don’t want to make you mad, but…” and of course my blood pressure begins to rise.
And when you hear “I don’t mean to criticize, but…” you’d better quickly put on your thick skin.
While sitting in the plethora of public meetings we’ve covered over the years, I’ve learned that whenever the speaker says, “I don’t mean to belabor the point, but…” he/she then drones on for another period of time obviously enjoying the sound of his/her voice while the dead horse is beaten further.
And when it comes down to you and a member of the boss’ family who are vying for a promotion, when the boss says, “I don’t mean to play favorites, but…” you shouldn’t count on any increase in your paycheck.
And when your soon-to-be ex-best friend says, “I don’t mean to be too personal, but…” I am sure they will eventually understand why you no longer accept their telephone calls.
And as for this week’s column, “I don’t mean to take up your time, but…”

The ‘Indiana Insect Control & Enforcement Division’

Those who worry about Indiana’s image in more enlightened sections of the country can relax a little now that one black mark on the state’s reputation has been erased: It is no longer one of only four states that do not have an official insect.
Hoosier entomologists will no longer have to hang their heads in shame when they go to national conferences. And the even better news is that new state laws don’t take effect until July, so we have several months to get used to the new rules and regulations that will attend designation of Say’s Firefly– sometimes disrespectfully called a “lightning bug”– as the official state insect.
The guidelines from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ new Insect Control and Enforcement Division (ICE) run 170 pages. That’s quite short as state dictates go, but it can be a lot to absorb. Informed Hoosiers should learn the highlights, especially if they want to be in a position to explain the situation to their children, who, after all, will be the most affected.
They will still be able to watch and catch fireflies as always but there will be a few important limitations: Only official firefly receptacles, made of glass and no larger than quart size, may be used. These jars can be purchased at any supermarket or convenience store, except on Sundays.
Fireflies may be kept in the jars for only three days. Since the adult insects live for only about two months, anything longer would be considered cruelty to a lower life form.
No more than five fireflies may be kept in one jar by anyone who does not have a breeder’s license, which may be obtained from the state for a $1,000 fee after the required 12-week course is completed.
To cut down on complaints from neighbors who require low light levels to sleep, fireflies may be displayed in jars only from 8 to 11 p.m., except for the five-day periods before and after the Fourth of July, when local jurisdictions may relax the rules if they choose.
If more than 30 fireflies are confined at one time (e.g. five fireflies in six jars or three fireflies in 10 jars), it will be considered an organized event and a permit must be obtained.
State officials stress that these rules are not meant to be punitive. Rather they are instructive, aimed at teaching our young people that fireflies are creatures of the wild, not suitable as pets. Fines will be minimal, and violations will be considered as infractions rather than misdemeanors that would go on a child’s permanent record.
One possible snag that officials are reluctant to talk about is the fact that only the Say’s Firefly is the official state insect, so none of the other 2,000 or so varieties will be appropriate for our children’s catch-and-release outings.
This could be problematic in northern counties, since the Say’s Firefly is thought to be common only in southern and central counties. ICE officials are apparently working on an exchange program in which Say’s Fireflies and non-Say’s fireflies will be trapped in various counties and transported to the appropriate venues. Details are still being hammered out, including what to do about smugglers who will surely try to create a black market in undocumented fireflies.
Which of course brings up the problem of fireflies indigenous to other parts of the country and, indeed, the rest of the world. Obviously, no wall would be high enough to keep them out, and officials won’t comment on speculation that they are consulting with the experts now trying to figure out how to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan.
Some of us worry about the massive new bureaucracy that could be needed to operate the new firefly program. But the state insists that it can handle things with no more than 75 ICE agents, some of them doubling up on small counties. They won’t harass our citizens with random raids, but will act only on citizen complaints.
Furthermore, at least 30 percent of their salaries will be paid through fines and fees, and there is no need for them to be armed “at this time.”
Speaking of carp, the state doesn’t have an official fish, not to mention a state mammal or dog breed. Now that we know it can be done, let’s get to work on that.
– – –
Leo Morris, a columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, originally penned this tongue-in-cheek prose. His tone should not be viewed as mocking or insulting but presidential.

Is DST Worth The Hassle?

by Curt Kovener

Show of hands: Who among you forgot to set your clocks ahead one hour before bed Saturday and were late for church the following morning?
Don’t be embarrassed. Dozens of area families likely got a late start. Daylight-saving time began at 2 a.m. this past Sunday, and, all these years later, some Hoosiers still aren’t used to it.
Indiana started its statewide observance of DST 12 years ago when now Purdue President Mitch Daniels was in the Governor’s Office. And though we’ve heard anecdotes of more time for evening recreation and increases in business activity, a 2008 study claims daylight-saving time is costing Hoosiers money.
University of California-Santa Barbara economics professor Matthew Kotchen and student Laura Grant analyzed 7 million meter readings of Indiana homes served by Duke Energy Corp. They found DST costs Hoosiers an extra $8.6 million in energy bills each year.
Higher air-conditioning costs in the summer and additional home-heating costs during spring and fall mornings are to blame, the study’s authors said.
A 2007 study of the temporary extension of daylight-saving time in two Australian territories also found increases in energy consumption, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Now, we won’t suggest Indiana do away with DST, or ask the U.S. Department of Transportation to put the majority of the state on Central Time. With Chicago to our northwest, Louisville to our south and Cincinnati at our southeast, those cities’ Hoosier commuters never will be happy about the time.
Besides, after several counties changed time zones, only to ask the transportation secretary to switch them back again, we doubt the secretary’s office will ever take another call from an Indiana official.
But the UC-Santa Barbara study should compel the federal government to study DST’s effects on U.S. energy usage. The government also should determine whether daylight-saving time reduces crime and traffic fatalities, as its proponents claim. “Springing forward” the second Sunday in March and “falling back” the first Sunday in November might not be worth the costs or the hassle of changing the clock in the car.
A final historical perspective, in 2006 the legislation putting Indiana into statewide DST passed the Indiana House by one vote. The fence sitting Republican legislator didn’t want to vote for it because his constituents didn’t want it. Governor Daniels did some political arm twisting on the first term GOP legislator and he ultimately voted in favor of daylight savings time. His constituents remembered that fall and sent a Democrat to the statehouse in the November 2006 election.
(Our thanks to our news information partner the Kokomo Tribune for sharing many of these observations.)