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.)

All Good Things Must Come To An End

by Curt Kovener

Many times in my youthful misbehavior my Mom or Dad, Grandpa & Grandma, Gramp & Granny (and even my Aunt Clarice) would admonish me that they would make me improve my behavior if it was the last thing they did.
So I then behaved…at lease when they were around.
But what are some of those other ‘last things’ that have occurred in this column’s readers’ lifetime?
•The last year that Sony made Betamax VCRs (which battled VHS for market share in the 1980s) was 2002. For our more youthful readers, video cassette tapes are what we watched before DVDs.
•The last time a gallon of gas cost less than $1: March 1999 when the US average was 97¢.
•Last song that Elvis Presley performed in public: ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’. It was in Indianapolis at the now razed Market Square Arena on June 26, 1977.
•The last state to abolish flogging as a legal punishment was Delaware in 1972. (Glad I never visited Delaware in my youth.)
•Napoleon’s last descendant was Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte. He died in 1945 after tripping over his dog’s leash.
•Jimmy Stewart’s last file role was the voice of a dog named Wylie Burp in ‘An American Tail: Fieval Goes West’ in 1991.
•Ethel Merman’s last film: ‘Airplane’ in 1980. She played a shell-shocked soldier who believed he was…Ethel Merman.
•The last time Frank Sinatra appeared on TV was in 1989 when he played himself in an episode of ‘Who’s The Boss?’
•The last cow to graze at the White House was Pauline the Holstein who belonged to President William Howard Taft in 1913.
•Last word spoken by Oxford professor Joseph Wright who edited the English Dialect Dictionary: “Dictionary”.
•The last US president with a beard: Indiana’s Benjamin Harrison, who left office in 1893.
•Last American veteran of World War I: Frank W. Buckles, who lived to be 110. He died in 2011. His advice for a long life: “When you start to die, don’t.”
And making full circle to our first example…
•The last Blockbuster Video rental (it was in Hawaii on Nov. 9, 2013): ‘This Is The End.’

Paying Attention To Punctuation

by Curt Kovener

Sitting in high school English class I felt compelled to pay attention. Mrs. Lewis was not only my teacher; she also was our neighbor for the first five years of my life. I realized that if I were caught not paying attention, she would resort to the underhanded tactic of telling my mother.
Little did I know at the time that I would be using words to make a living. If I did, perhaps I would have paid even more attention. I still struggle with her lessons on when to use lay, laid, lain, and lie.
I think I remember enough of what she taught us about punctuation. Though it is my observation that texting and Facebook probably has shown that many others did not pay attention in high school English Class.
•For instance a sign that says: We’re Open has different meaning that Were Open
•I don’t believe that a sign at a Goodwill Store meant to be insulting when it read: Thank you! Your Donation Just Helped Someone. Get a Job!
•Some commas could make the business’ bathroom policy more informative and less humorous & confusing: Toilet Only For Elderly Disabled Pregnant Children
•A magazine cover headline could have been more precise with a couple of commas: Rachael Ray finds inspiration in cooking her family and her dog.
•Let’s eat, Grandpa! has a most different meaning from Let’s eat Grandpa!
•Who wants to live in a neighborhood that has a street sign proclaiming “Slow Children Crossing”?
•Seen on a bumper sticker: Irony is when someone writes “Your An Idiot.”
•Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are important in relationships: She texted me “your adorable”. I responded with “no, you’re adorable”. Now she thinks I like her when all I did was point out her grammar mistake.
•How sentences are punctuated can result in very dramatic different meanings. First read this message conveying warm affection.
Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy. Will you let me be yours?
Now let’s see how those same words read with the punctuation in different places:
Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
•And another example of the importance of punctuation (mixed with some sexism) a college English Professor wrote this following on the board: A woman without her man is nothing” and instructed the class to correctly punctuate the sentence.
The males wrote, “A woman, without her man, is nothing.
The females wrote, “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”
•And finally, if you don’t think punctuation is important, try forgetting the comma when you text someone “I’m sorry, I love you.”

Pun Stars

by Curt Kovener

A couple of my friends who enjoy puns are vacationing in warmer places now. The day they left it started snowing in the wilderness…so I guess the joke is on me.
But they will be reading these when the return in a couple of weeks so you will have a leg up on them, so to speak.
•The future, the present and the past walked into a bar. Things got a little tense.
•What did E.T.’s mother say to him when he got home? “Where on Earth have you been?”
•What’s the difference between a poorly dressed man on a bicycle and a nicely dressed man on a tricycle? A tire.
•They’ll never serve snails at McDonald’s because it’s not fast food.
•When seagulls fly over an ocean bay, do they become bagels?
A geologist found a rock 5,280 feet long. It’s a milestone!
•I recently got crushed by a pile of books, but I suppose I’ve only have my shelf to blame.
• I went to a really emotional wedding the other day. Even the cake was in tiers.
•I’ve decided to sell my vacuum. It was just gathering dust!
• What’s the best time to go to the dentist? Before tooth-hurtie!
• Never date a tennis player. Love means nothing to them.
• I was overcharged for velcro last week. What a rip off!
• I’ve been reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.
•A train stops at a train station. A bus stops at a bus station. Now why is my desk called a ‘work station’?
•I was born to be a pessimist. My blood type is B negative.
•Did you heard about the magic tractor? It turned into a field!
•To the guy who invented zero: Thanks for nothing!
•I used to be a banker, but over time I lost interest.
•I can’t understand why people are so bothered about me not knowing what the word ‘apocalypse’ means. It’s not like it’s the end of the world!
•I’m still angry at my parents for not buying me expensive roller blades. Cheapskates!
•”Atheism is a non-prophet organization.” ~George Carlin
•”I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” ~Dorothy Parker
•“You can tune a guitar, but you can’t tuna fish. Unless, of course, you play bass.” ~Douglas Adams
•“Carpe per diem: sieze the check,” ~Robin Williams
•“If you want to see a comic strip, you should see me in the shower.” ~Groucho Marx
•Irish writer Oscar Wilde once bragged that he could make a pun on any subject. So someone challenged him; “The queen.” “Ah,” said Wilde, “but the queen is not a subject.”
•“You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.” ~Dorothy Parker
•I tried to find 10 more puns that made me laugh but no pun in ten did.

Gone Now But Will Be Back

by Curt Kovener

While there was sufficient ice on the pond we used the seasonal hard water to aid in our invasive plant reduction efforts.
Way back in the day the Indiana DNR provided wildlife planting packets to benefit birds and add beauty to the forest edges.
One of the plants, provided by the state was Autumn Olive. In the summer there are sweet smelling white blossoms that attract bees and pollinators of all sorts. Sitting on the dock you can hear them buzzing about. Then late summer small fruit covers the plants and the birds have a feast through fall.
The problem is that after dining and defecating, the autumn olive seed now with attached fertilizer germinates…all over the place.
This is not a problem if the bird poops where we usually mow. The summer mowing controls and kills the unwanted invasive. But plants sprout and grow at the pond’s edge where there is plenty of sun and plenty of water and extremely limited access to mow, weed whack or saw the invasive.
Last month a 7” coating of pond ice was used as a platform to cut out the heretofore inaccessible invasive.
My chainsaw made quick work of the shrub and a stump spray of brush killer should prevent re-spouting this spring.
The difficult part was hauling the now cut autumn olive branches, some upwards of 3” in diameter, across the slippery ice onto the dock then pulled up the steps to the Gator for transport to the burn pile.
I enjoy outdoor work. But the winter sedentary habit I seasonally fall into doesn’t care for the sudden exercise. My knees, back and muscles rebelled loudly that evening.
An un-iced adult beverage help numb my pain and aided sleep to come.
The ice is pretty much off the pond in the wilderness now and we are grateful.
Grateful for the warmer (but no doubt temporary) weather. And grateful that an ice breaking rescue did not have to be implemented for Emma the 100-pound Great Pyrenees.
Pyrenees are livestock protection dogs and she considers her humans her livestock and thus all noises, real and imagined, are considered threats. Threats are answered by lots of loud barking and a run to investigate. The ice on the pond she considered a short cut for her protection territory obligation.
That wasn’t a problem when the thermometer was in the single digits and teens. But as temperatures warmed making thinner ice, we worried about an unexpected bath in the pond for Emma and how to pull her from the icy water.
I was conflicted by old sayings: “Be prepared,” I recall as the Boy Scout motto and “Worry is the interest you pay on a debt that is not yet due.”
So it seems our motto of the Wilderness is “Be prepared to worry.” Which may be sound advice for all Americans these days.