Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Message from Chuck Estok, the Mayor's Brother

This is the body of the message that I received. I have added, in IN RED, a few corrections and additions only for the sake of clarity. My apology in advance for taking this liberty. My comments will be added as a "COMMENT”. The letter follows.

Subject: “Take A Look At This”

Take a look at a few. You should of showed up there at court and saved the coffee shop rumors.

Willie Ritchie, mother of Suedell Manns, said her daughter (who is Suedell Manns and who is confined to a nursing home) couldn’t read or write, yet Suedell Manns' application and actual ballot bears a signature better than mine. Footnote: Marlene Chambers (wife of candidate Rick Chambers) signed said application for absentee ballot, under penalties of perjury, that she witnessed Suedell Manns sign said application. How does this square?

Mike Summey stated he did not sign any application or ballot in election because he lives in Culver, Indiana and did not vote. Jimmy Summey said he signed his brother Mike’s application for an absentee ballot because Marlene Chambers brought the application to his house and said that he could sign brother Mike’s name to the application and he would not get in any trouble. We still don't know who signed the "actual ballot" because it doesn't match the application signature that Jimmy forged or Mike Summey or Jimmy Summey's signature and Jimmy said he did not ever see the actual ballot. ?

Kenneth VanAsdall, who lives in Ober, Indiana, stated that he got his application from his father Jeff VanAsdall and Jeff Vanasdal stated Marlene Chambers gave him the application, and I believe Jeff stated that Marlene Chambers said that his son Kenneth could vote even if he lived outside the city limits.

Charlie Barnett stated he stated he lived in Walkerton and that he got his application from Rick Chambers father Buzz who he has worked with (both Rick and his father) for years.

Chris McFarland said that she received her application to vote absentee from Marlene Chambers who brought it to her house and that Marlene also made a point to inform her not to forget that her brother Bobbie worked for Rick's father Buzz. Chris said she felt bribed.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Great Day For the Starke County Election Board

The Estok vs Starke County Election Board lawsuit resulted in a very, very close examination of the proceedings of the Election Board. After perhaps hundreds of hours of investigation there was only ONE “possible” problem. ONE Absentee Ballot Application had a signature that didn’t match the voter registration card. Even in this case, the actual ballot had a signature that seemed to match the registration. So this ONE problem is most likely not even moot.

This is astounding! This is GREAT work by our election board. I’ll find out the names and post them later. Or if you know who these people are, please let me know.

A Very Sad Day in Starke Circuit Court

....... Justices of the Indiana Supreme Court .......

The 2nd day of the Estok vs Starke County Election Board and Chambers was over before lunch. The witnesses for Estok were an unmitigated disaster and Attorney Bedrock had to give up. The defendants, the Election Board and Chambers, were somewhat at a loss as to how to mount a defense because no evidence whatsoever was offered up against them. So the defense rested without calling any witnesses. My guess is that Estok will lose his suit and, furthermore, he will be found guilty of bringing a frivolous action and will be required to pay the legal fees of everybody.

The really sad thing: 50 completely innocent voting citizens, good citizens, were hauled into court, some lost 2 days of work, some old folks were frightened out of their minds. Read the comment posted to the earlier blog,
A Hilarious Day In Starke Circuit Court. This witness is pissed and by God he should be! Most of these witnesses swore that they would never vote again. That would be a mistake. Mr. Chambers is a fine candidate for the job of Mayor. Chambers was not in the least little bit responsible for this mess. Please vote for him in the fall election. Please don't let these assholes get you down.

The witnesses might consider action. Mr. bedrock was not prepared for court. He did not have the order of his witnesses prepared. The witnesses had to wait 2 days, and then many were never called. I think that there is certainly the possibility that this could be construed lawyer misconduct.

And if there is any witness out there that was called into court and was interviewed outside the courtroom the day of the trial and then Mr. Bedrock decided not to call you, well…that might be even worse misconduct. In any case if you feel abused, it is because you were. Legally, you were abused.

Please contact:
Indiana Supreme Court
Disciplinary Commission
Donald R. Lundberg, Executive Secretary
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1165
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Or go to :

Or click right here and download a
Request for Investigation Form.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Back to School Night at Knox High

A beautiful young lady in her first year at university.

Begging your pardon, I’ve decided to start with a digression. 2 days ago a certain Leslie ("The lady doth protest too much, methinks.") accused me of "lik[ing] to hear their (sic) own words, more than anything else". Indeed a serious accusation, to which I must plead guilty in order to maintain my reputation for complete honesty under all circumstances. Now I shall indulge.

I used the word “arras” as a vocabulary teaser in the introduction to that blog. My first encounter with arras was as a quite young lady, playing hide and seek, pirate style, sword in hand, with my father. I had taken up a clever ambush behind some floor-length draperies. Being both quite adept at discovering my hiding places and well-read in Shakespeare, he nearly instantly poked his foil into my midsection exclaiming, “How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead! I’ll stab her through this arras!” Daddy was nearly right on, except that the weave in question was jacquard not tapestry. (certainly, at best, a quibble)

Decades later and ago I found myself babysitting one of those required and exceedingly dreadful freshman English composition courses at a private university here in Indiana. Hamlet was required reading. Heaven Forfend! (btw from Othello and also a rare example of the optative mood). Shakespeare wasn’t a class favorite believe you me. To make up for the difficult reading, we avoided making the students write. So the test was multiple-choice. Defining “arras” was one of the brilliant questions devised by the English department to test Shakespearian competence. Most students chose b) “a ceremonial sword”. Of course most students choose b) when they don’t know the answer so I didn’t take that to mean they actually thought it was a sword. c) “a wide curving staircase” was also a big hit, but then again, c is always a popular choice, just behind b in fact. I remember a young man, bright and shiny-faced expressing his disgust with being expected to know such a thing as arras. He had guessed b and got a d. I was amused. And I remain as much these many years later. Evidently his father wasn't a Shakespearean swashbuckler as was yours truly.

Digression over: back to Back to School Night at Knox High School. A father of an incoming 9th grader made the unwise choice of taking his child to this evening event. He was disgusted. The facility was dirty. The Principal was hostile. The teachers were not engaged. This father, having come up through private schooling, was expecting teacher presentations, syllabi, and a rulebook. One teacher did hand out a sheet of paper directing the students to bring pencil and paper to the first class. (Indeed! I think that is a good idea!) Perhaps if the school administration puts their heads together they might imagine some better scenario for this event. In any case, welcome to Knox High, home of the Redskins.

A Hilarious Day In Starke Circuit Court

Sometimes a man who deserves to be looked down upon because he is a fool is despised only because he is a lawyer. Montesquieu, Persian Letters, XLIV, 1721

Our forefathers built a massive and imposing courthouse, a neo-Gothic monument of immense monolithic sandstone blocks, towering far above the swamps and prairies, fully intending to awe the ‘bacco-slobbering proletariat farmers and their God-fearing womenfolk with the grandeur of the primacy of law in our great republic’s grand constitutional scheme. Of course, politics being what it was and still remains, they had to throw in a few bas-relief sculptures of idealized Yankee soldiers and some silly decorative mythological bric-a-brac, to satisfy the tastes of some pompous politician’s wife. So the message got a bit diluted. But it didn’t matter really; those aforementioned proletariats were not going to be much impressed given that the tenants of the building were the usual mix of small town politicians and their patronage buddies, and that the place swarmed with pettifoggers intent on flailing these self same proletariats (which were well-aware of the general scheme of things). Yesterday, yet again, and hopefully for a long time to come, this archetypal American drama was played out.

Yesterday began Mayor Estok’s lawsuit against the Starke County Election Board and Mr. Chambers, his one-time police chief and later mayoral opponent. I was quite amused to see that this played out exactly as one would expect. Mr. Bedrock (treated in yesterday’s blog), is the lead attorney for His Honor. It seems Bedrock has a truly astounding 50 or so witnesses to call. The courtroom set-up is a little bit unusual as there are 3 attorney tables, 1 each for His Honor, Mr. Chambers, and the Election Board. This is a bench hearing so there is no jury.

Early on the Election Board requested the order of witnesses from the plaintiff’s attorney (Bedrock). This is routine courtroom stuff. The defending attorneys need to have their papers in order and plan cross-examination, etc, just to keep things moving. Well Mr. Bedrock had no evident plan for calling witnesses other than jumble of paperwork for 50-some witnesses. BTW, this didn’t seem to be some clever pretense of incompetence as one might expect in an ancient B&W Perry Mason episode. Remember, there is no jury to impress with the bumbling. And indeed it seems that this bumbling will cause the trial to go on extra days.

One typical witness called by Estok/Bedrock:
Q. When do you have to leave for work?
A. 6:15AM
Q. So why did you cast an absentee ballot? You could have voted at 6:00AM.
A. Well I thought there might be a line and it might take more than 15 minutes.
Q. So you committed a fraud! You could have got in line at 5:00AM and been first in line. You did not need to vote absentee.
A. Gosh. I have always done this in every election and nobody said anything before.

Another witness:
Q. You don’t sleep in Knox do you?
A. No. I am caring for my sick mother at night, out of town.
Q. So you live with your Mother.
A. Well, I guess. But I used to live with my Father in Knox and my stuff is at his house. And I come home to Knox every day and spend the day helping him out because he needs assistance just like my Mom.
Q. So you committed fraud! You aren’t living in Knox.
A. Jeeze. I’ve been going back and forth for years and have voted in 3 or 4 elections and nobody ever said anything. I’m sorry.
Then came the cross examination from the Election Board:
Q. When Mr. Estok’s investigator talked to you where did he find you?
A. At my Dad’s house in Parkview.
Q. Where did they serve you the summons to appear in court?
A. At my Dad’s house, here in Knox.
Q. So, it sems they know where you live?
A. Yah.

Then there was the attempt to get witnesses to say they had been intimidated:
Q. So did you feel pressured to vote for Mr. Chambers when his wife brought you the absentee ballot?
A. No, no! She was very nice. She answered all my questions and never suggested I vote for anybody. She was very patient and helpful.
Q. Didn't you find it odd that the wife of the candidate appeared at your house?
A. Oh no. When Mr. Chambers came to my house I asked him for help and he said that his wife or daughter or maybe some other volunteer would bring me the absentee ballot materials. No. The only time there was trouble was when that investigator for Mr. Estok came to the house and told me I could go to jail for breaking the law……
Bedrock: OBJECTION! Your Honor. I did not ask this witness anything about that!
Election Board: Your Honor! It’s his witness!
Judge. Ha. Ha. Ha. Let’s just move it along, please.

Very entertaining stuff. You should attend. Better than CSI.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Eugène Delacroix, Hamlet and His Mother (ca. 1830)
Vocabulary word for the day: arras. (Hint: It's in the picture)

A person claiming, perhaps purporting, to be the daughter of “the so-called "idiot attorney" sent the following comment. Towards the end you will see that I have deleted a person’s name that is not connected with this blog. I have (parenthetically) inserted some comments in RED.

Leslie "Idiot" Bedrock has left a new comment on your post "Lawyers I Have Known and Hated, Part 1":

Hello Ms or Mrs. Cross, whichever it may be, although I feel quite stupid writing this to you, knowing that you're not a real person and you're hiding behind a woman's pen name. Oh well, I guess it's very easy to hide with your tail between your legs when you're putting down others on the Internet. (My name, like it or not, is Marian Cross. Why is that a problem with you?)

I am the daughter of the so-called "idiot attorney" and, while I believe you have a Constitutional right to speak and write whatever you please and desire, I feel that you are misinformed and are, in fact, what you call my father and the Mayor. I believe that's what the literary world refers to as irony?? Maybe. (If you are saying I am an idiot, OK. You have had your say. But, I can assure you that my daughter won't be jumping to my defense. Perhaps this is because she would find it quite amusing that I would be called an idiot. Certainly she wouldn't feel the sensitivity that you feel. One might wonder what the cause of that sensitivity may be. Are we near a nerve perhaps?)

Now, you may argue that you know the law but you seem like someone who likes to hear their own words, more than anything else. You go on and on and on throughout this blog with superioristic words but you do nothing...nothing to change what you feel is wrong. You simply sit in front of your computer, typing your senseless words, all while hiding behind that little pen name you have. (I have read several great books lately. I wish very much that I had written them. If my words are senseless it certainly begs the question of why you choose to comment, eh? And, my dear, superioristic is not a word. Furthermore, I would suggest that some words are better than others, you know, have more precise meanings than simple words. I would hope that an attorney would be very sensitive to the use of words, you know, in contracts and stuff. I would think that sensitivity to this power of words would be something an attorney would carefully pass along to his children, if they were aware of it that is.)

You refer to the Mayor and my father as so-called "idiots" but here's the thing...something illegal DID in fact occur! People who did not live in the city limits voted and that's WRONG, whether it was one person or does not make any difference. (Ah. The degree of wrongdoing makes a great difference. There is an important difference between 1 and 100. In the case of 1 ballot or even 10, it is irrelevant to the outcome of the election and is not an indication whatsoever of systemic cheating. In fact, it is quite common for people to vote in the wrong precinct. It happens in every precinct in every election. I would venture a wild guess that 2 % of every vote cast in every election in America is in the wrong precinct. There is a saying from Voltaire, "The perfect is the enemy of the good." A belief in perfect justice is small minded. In any case, the Mayor and his attorney are simply fishing. They have no case. Ordinarilly they wouldn't care in the least. High minded? I doubt it.)

You ask the question in your ramblings of whether the Absentee Ballot Application states whether or not if an election is falsified will it be invalid. Now, let me ask you a question...WHY ON EARTH WOULD THE CITIZENS OF KNOX, INDIANA WANT SOMEONE WHO IS WILLING TO CHEAT, SO BLATANTLY, IN THE OFFICE FOR THE POSITION OF MAYOR!!!!??????? To me, this question is silly and I almost feel stupid or, dare I say, "idiotic"-like for asking it but with you, Ms or Mrs. Cross, I feel I must. Maybe, you should refer to me as "idiot daughter" because I'm obviously confused as well...Idiocy must run in the family, I guess. (The court brief on file did not accuse the Mayor's opponent of any wrongdoing. That is because that would be libel. And even your daddy knows that this is dangerous ground.)

In this country, we always talk about standing up for what's right and wrong...The Mayor and my Father are prime examples. I think it's commendable that someone is standing up to cheaters and making an argument. Maybe you should really look at what the "idiot Mayor" and the "idiot attorney" are doing and learn something. If you believe something is wrong, stand behind that opinion and not hide behind a fake name. (This paragraph is unintentionally quite amusing. and BTW, that last sentence; wasn't.)

As I come to the end of my thoughts on this matter, I notice that you have "comment moderation" enabled on your blog spot, which I also think is humorous. You are so opposed to any differing opinions from yours, you're censoring your own site. How humorous...again! I cannot get over how you must like the sound and sight of your own voice and words. (How odd. This is my blog, not everybody's. I print every comment if there is anything of merit being said. But, in fact, yes, I decide. Why not? What is wrong with that? If the editor of the South Bend Tribune doesn't print your letter to the editor is that censorship? No, of course not. You need to start thinking about the words that you use. They make you seem stupid. However, I have been told that you are a quite bright young lady. Maybe you have been hanging around the wrong people.)

Have a beautiful and blessed day, XXXXXX (erroneous name deleted by Knox Indiana), and I do hope that you learn from Mayor Estok and Mr. Bedrock. At least they stand up for what they believe in and do it using their real identity.


Daughter of Idiot Attorney

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

just trying to clear my head

I'm back. I haven't looked at my email in a month or even thought about this blog. So sorry to the posters and my readers. Let's just say Knox Indiana has been on vacation.

Marian Cross

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Report on the Urban Forest

Heaton Street, US 35, Where are the trees?
I speak of Desert without repose
Carved by relentless winds
Torn up from its bowels
Blinded by sands
Unsheltered solitary
Yellow as death
Wrinkled like parchment
Face turned to the sun.
(Chedid 1995)
There is a lot less shade on the streets of Knox, Indiana than there used to be. This is one of the reasons that Knox is much more ugly than it was 20 years ago. The widening of US 35 destroyed nearly every shade tree on Heaton Street. Storms and disease have destroyed over 50% of the shade trees on the residential portion of Main Street. The sidewalks of Main Street were once a pleasant shaded haven on a hot summer’s day. Try walking up and down Main Street in the late afternoon. The sun is beating down on you nearly the whole time. The heat absorbed by the street pavement and the sidewalks is released in the afternoon when the temperature would naturally tend to start falling. The result is an unrelenting oven effect.

Other streets share the same problems. There is a city ordinance requiring the planting of shade trees along the streets of Knox. This ordinance has been neither enforced nor observed. Where trees have been planted, people have tended to plant away from the street, in the center of their lawn, and more often than not, ornamentals like flowering crab or the almost ubiquitous ornamental pear have been chosen. These trees will never shade the sidewalk and street. Businesses, governmental units and residences have been guilty of ignoring this basic element in our quality of life.

The social theory is not difficult to comprehend. We give up a personal freedom (in this case the freedom not to have a couple shade trees in front of your house in exchange for a collective (in this case a more pleasant environment and better quality of life). I think that most people do actually agree with this concept. We bemoan the fact that our society is getting fatter, emphasizing the well worn but valid case that we don’t get enough exercise. Well I don’t want to walk the streets of Knox in the summer when the sun is bearing down. So we are now, by not enforcing the city code, collectively discouraging that exercise that we all agree would be such a good idea.

Take a drive around town (or a walk around town for the tougher amoung us). Notice how few decent shade trees remain. What a shame.

Let’s Write a Novel, suggestions from my editors

Typical Knox Scene

Note: The novel from the start can be found by clicking on Lets Write a Novel , my associated blog.

My trusted editors have both read the novel thus far. There is a split decision about the Prologue, 1 for and 1 against. Both agree that Chapter 1 simply will not do. One good suggestion is that I should be much less cute hinting about the main conflict. I have decided to get right to Abraham’s and Ophelia’s main conflict right off the bat in Chapter 1. This will carry forward the gravity established in the Prologue and will allow the elimination of the hints about the future. Another suggestion is that Abraham’s anxiety about Ophelia’s name is not realistic. I must agree and will tone that down, perhaps by discussing biblical context for the importance of naming rather than Abraham’s individual anxiety. ?? More dialog was suggested as was faster plot development. I am considering these suggestions. The novel is envisioned as largely psychological, i.e. the effects of small town life on minority beliefs and traditions. This isn’t simply a Jewish minority question as it really applies to the pressure to conform felt by all.

So, I will be working on a rewrite for awhile. There may not be a posting on the novel for a few days. Your thoughts on these matters, if any, are appreciated.

It may be of interest to note that readers of the “Let’s Write a Novel” blogsite have checked in from the following domain addresses:
Dubai, Dubayy Little Rock, Arkansas (Unknown Country) Spanish Irvine, California
Wendelstein, Bayern, Germany Windsor, Ontario, Canada Portland, Maine Contagem, Minas Gerais, Brazil Long Island City, New York Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Unknown Country) English Perth, Perth and Kinross, United Kingdom (Unknown Country) German So Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil Morristown, New Jersey (Unknown Country) Spanish (Argentina) France Somerville, Massachusetts Singapore Milton Keynes, United Kingdom Cambridge, Massachusetts Riga, Latvia Fort Worth, Texas Eureka, Montana Fort Smith, Arkansas Amsterdam, Noord-Holland Vancouver, British Columbia Amsterdam, Noord-Holland Leland, Mississippi Pakistan Temperance, Michigan Germany Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain Bardolph, Illinois Grovertown, Indiana Fort Wayne, Indiana Leesburg, Indiana Eureka, Montana Bourbon, Indiana Sellersville, Pennsylvania Plymouth, Indiana Knox, Indiana

Thanks for your interest.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The New Main Street, Million Dollar Road to Nowhere

Alley behind 5-Star with new Main St. on the right

This spring the Main Street extension project was completed. Main Street was extended 2,000 feet to the south. Then the entrance to the cemetery was repaved to meet the new street. That is about 600 feet. This is First Class work: nice and wide, deep asphalt, concrete curbs, sidewalks. It cost over $1,000,000. This was an Indiana Department of Transportation project.

This is a road to nowhere, with nothing on the way there. The Project starts at the intersection on Main Street and Redskin Trail. Proceeding South along the $1,000,000 Street, we have the alley behind the 5-Star Mall (on the left) and the High School tennis courts (on the right). The School property continues on the right about 1,200 feet. On the left, once you get past the hind end of 5-Star there is a vacant lot that is behind the carwash, McDonalds, and the bank. This developable land is about 375 linear feet. Further on, on the left side is the subsidized apartment complex and the Sandy Acres Park. On the right side, once you get past the high school’s property, there is about 750 linear feet of wooded area that may be in private hands. Then the Million Dollar Road to Nowhere turns east to hook up with US 35 on the cemetery road (150 S). There is about 300 linear feet of vacant land behind the church. The rest of the way has the park on the left and the church on the right. This gives us access to a total of about 1, 425 linear feet of developable land. The cost of the project was $1,051, 000. So that is a cost to you and me of $737 per linear foot. To put that in perspective, that means a 100-foot lot, 1 city block deep, now has a government investment of $73,700. Is there any sane businessman or even human being that would even pay that much for a lot on this Godforsaken stretch of road? I doubt it. There is no commercial reason whatsoever that there will ever be any traffic on this road.

Worthless! Stupid!

Hmm. Makes me wonder who owns those few feet of developable land in question. I'll have to check that out!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Let’s Write a Novel - Chapter 5, Paragraphs 9, 10, 11

Note: The novel from the start can be found by clicking on Lets Write a Novel , my associated blog. I have recently done a bit of rewriting there so it will be a bit different than the original posts on this blog.


North Washington Street

Chapter 5, Paragraphs 9, 10, 11


---------Pardon me. Excuse me. Remember me, Ophelia’s daughter, the hard soul narrating this story. Well I’ve noticed that something odd is happening. As I extract from my memory these fragments of my family’s history and commit them to paper the story that I thought I knew is changing. Every family has private happy tales, sort of inside jokes, where all that needs to be said is a key word or phrase. Then the mind of the family is one, is communal. These are the stories that, although entirely true, are now myths, more true than truth. Do you need an example? Probably not. Your family, I’m sure has their own stories that have come to define you, you in the plural. At least for your sake I hope so. In our family the stories are what you are reading. The glorious department store, the opera house, the strange family in Rye, these are the family myths handed down to me. Also included in these myths are the other family stories. The ones not told at the dinner table: the grievances, the hurts, the grudges. These are told in confidentially, secretly. A mother may recruit a daughter to share a grudge. A mother may nurse a wound for many years, just waiting for a daughter to be old enough. These family tales, I also have begun to share with you. As I just said, I’ve noticed that something odd is happening. I thought I knew the story I was to tell. The memories are coming together in an unexpected way. It is like gluing together the shattered pottery shards dug from the sands of Illium. The pieces are all there, spread out on the archeologist’s table, but you can’t be sure what the thing will look like until you get it put together. Well I’m starting to put the pieces together and, for now, Abraham seems like a pretty good father. This is not exactly the story I expected. I, the archeologist of my family’s myths, am surprised at the emerging shape of the urn.
Again, sorry for the interruption. Just keeping you up on things.---------

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Let’s Write a Novel - Chapter 5, Paragraph 8

101 North Washington Street
Chapter 5, Paragraph 8

The two girls became friends and were happy spend some time together that summer, including an overnighter at each others house. Ophelia was shocked to learn that all fathers weren’t so gentle as her own. Israel Moszkowski was the lord of his household. He was 50, fat, slovenly and arrogant. There were 4 boys living at home ages 9 to 17. Israel more or less ignored Naphtali, preferring to browbeat the boys. That is how Ophelia learned some Yiddish: putz, shlemiel, eisl, nebbish, faygeleh, pisher, meshuggina. So Abraham’s plan was certainly a success.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

In The News

The weekly “Starke County Leader” is the only real newspaper in Starke County, Indiana. Knox, Indiana happens to be the county seat. So that makes “The Leader” Knox, Indiana’s only real newspaper. Editor, John Read made mention of a Knox blog in his opinion piece titled, “Let’s try a ‘blog’ concept” on June 7, 2006. There have been several Knox blogs rise and fall, but my blog seems to be the only active Knox blog. So I’m going to say that the Blog referred to by editor Read is in fact this little blog.

The opinion piece “Let’s try a ‘blog’ concept” hurt my delicate feelings because John said that comments are in “really random order”. Jeeze! Are my blogs in really random order? Sorry. I’ll try harder. I mean I’ll try harder NOT to be in really random order.

Since it has been awhile since I have looked at a “Leader” it occurred to me that I should give it a review. Since isn’t fair to compare a local weekly to a big city daily, I will compare “The Leader” to “The Newshawk”. “The Newshawk” is an upstart tabloid based in Knox, just a few years old. It costs 2 bits, exactly half as much as “The Leader”. So, for cost, I give the Leader 1 STAR, the Newshawk 2 STARS.

When the “Newshawk” started I had high hopes of better journalism. At that time “The Leader” had been in decline and had been bought out by another newspaper. Local news content had withered. It seemed as if there was little concern with being a Starke County newspaper. It is my pleasure to report that “The Leader” seems to be more of a local newspaper again. Editorial content and local coverage have increased. Odd bits that seemed to have nothing to do with Starke County have gone away. BRAVO! But sadly, “The Newshawk” is a failure. The content has withered. Production quality is poor. So, for quality, I give the Leader 2 STARS, the Newshawk ½ STAR.

Now I’m going to get VISCIOUS! On the Leader’s Opinion Page is a feature called “Did You Know?” Here are 2 items mentioned:

Item 1: “A rat can last longer without water than a camel.” NONSENSE! Maybe some hopping kangaroo rat in the desert, but not a Burmese Water Rat!

Item 2: “There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with orange, purple, and silver.” NONSENSE! Syringe, Nipple, Vancouver. You didn’t say it had to be good rhymes! Here is a perfectly horrid poem to prove my point:

Wrapped my arm in orange,
Stuck my arm with syringe,
Blood the color of purple,
Drips upon my nipple,
Is it a cloud lined with Silver?
No, Just another day in Vancouver.


Let’s Write a Novel - Chapter 5, Paragraphs 5, 6 & 7

1912 Cole.
Note: The novel from the start can be found by clicking on Lets Write a Novel , my associated blog. I have recently done a bit of rewriting there so it will be a bit different than the original posts on this blog.
101 North Washington Street.
Chapter 5, Paragraphs 5, 6 & 7
Sara understood Abe’s concern but didn’t fully share it. She did feel a little guilty because she hadn’t been properly looking after Ophelia’s religious upbringing (as was expected of a Jewish mother). But thus far that little feeling of guilt hadn’t caused her act. So Sara sighed. Israel and Esther Moszkowski lived in the village of Rye, 7 miles out of town. Their youngest, Naftali, was Sara’s age. A quick round of letters resulted in a warn invitation for Sara and Ophelia to lunch with Esther and Naftali.

The Weisses and Moszkowskies had traveled together on the train to religious services in Valparaiso. On one occasion the Mr. and Mrs. Moszkowski stayed overnight in the Weiss home after arriving back in Knox after sunset. Sara thought Israel rough and ill mannered and Esther seemed rather downtrodden. They both spoke with heavy accents and Esther, especially, seemed more comfortable speaking Yiddish than English. As Sara was not fluent in Yiddish it made conversation difficult. Although she was apprehensive about lunch, Sara enjoyed the adventure of driving out to Rye. It was the furthest she had ever gone afield at the helm of the Oldsmobile. (Abe’s store janitor rode in the back seat in case of breakdown).
The lunch was surprisingly pleasant. Esther had already fed her husband and 5 boys and shooed them out of the modest house. Naftali and Ophelia played grown-up and managed a tea party with some Teddy bears. After lunch the four ladies strolled past the busy packinghouse along the tracks. There was the not entirely unpleasant smell of pickles being soaked in huge oak vats. Cartloads of potatoes pulled by horses or mules were lined up waiting to be weighed, graded, and unloaded. Just past the packinghouse they stopped at the tiny post office where Ester checked for mail and introduced Sara to the postmaster. Behind the building, next to the railroad tracks, grew wild plums. There Naftali introduced Ophelia to that little wonder of nature.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Let’s Write a Novel Chapter 5, Paragraphs 3 & 4

Note: The novel from the start can be found by clicking on Lets Write a Novel , my associated blog. I have recently done a bit of rewriting there so it will be a bit different than the original posts on this blog.
101 North Washington Street.
Chapter 5, Paragraphs 3 & 4

That isn’t to say that Abraham didn’t love his daughter. He adored her. Some afternoons Abraham would take Ophelia to the store. His wonderful 5-year old would happily skip along the sidewalk. She had to stare awhile at the fascinating barber’s pole and say hello to the men in the barbershop, where they knew her well enough to consider her a sort of mascot. Just a few steps from the Weiss Department Store, her daddy had to pick her up for a sip of water at the public fountain on the corner of Main Street. Ophelia loved the store. She could explore the mysteries of her daddy’s office, spinning the dial on the safe and then jumping on his chair making it swing wildly on its springs. Out on the sales floor, the sales ladies would let her try on hats and crank the cash register when they rang up a sale for an indulgent customer. Sometimes her daddy took her upstairs to explore the Opera House or downstairs to explore the dark corners of the stock room. Abraham took good care of her.

Abe worried a little about the lack of Jewish influence in her life. Occasional visits from her Grandparents weren’t really sufficient. It was about this time that Abe suggested that Sara and Ophelia should make some visits to the other two Jewish families and invite them over to the house more often. Abraham thought that getting to know the Weinstein and Moszkowski children would be good for Ophelia’s “Jewishness”. It is a cause for concern for Jews living in small towns. It easily could happen that their children won’t grow up to be Jewish, that they won’t absorb their ancient and holy traditions, that they will perhaps convert and marry a Christian. This is something that Abraham most sincerely did not want to happen to Ophelia. It troubled him that Sara seemed more interested in introducing Ophelia to art, music and Alice Roosevelt. But Sara seemed quite good-natured about his suggestion and said that she and Ophelia could certainly make some social calls in the near future.

WBWA, Part 2, Great Schools I Have Known

Columbia College, at Columbia University established 1754
Leading advocate of Core Curriculum in higher education

I said in Part 1 WBWA, MYOC, that MBWA, Management By Walking Around, is just common sense. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of common sense. As often as not common sense is flat out incorrect. So please allow me to modify my statement: MBWA is generally good managment practice.

Indeed, I have seen MBWA used to with wonderful results at schools around the country. In Arizona I visited several elementary schools that were based on a concept called Core Curriculum. These schools were lead by dynamic school principals with strong support from their Superintendents and School Boards. The Principals often observed every classroom in their school each day. They would walk into the class unannounced, take notes, make comments, and ask questions of both the students and the teachers. They would examine the classroom displays and bulletin boards (only student work allowed and only work pertaining to that week’s school wide Core theme). They saw to it that Art, Music, and Physical education were related to that week's Core instructional unit. These Principals were two important things: expert teachers and intense taskmasters. They believed in and completely understood their curriculum. They had the courage to demand adherence to the curriculum and used very close oversight to correct or weed out bad instruction. Another thing these Principals had in common is that they delegated nearly all non-educational responsibilities to their non-professional office staff, leaving them time to do what the title Principal used to mean, that is Principal Instructor.

In Knox Principals have a hands-off approach to the classrooms. This actually might be the best thing considering the shortcomings of the administration and school board. If the administrators aren’t expert teachers they don’t have much business telling teachers what to do. That is why I found the attempt by our School Board and Superintendent to do some MBWA to be so very pathetic. All management techniques are only as good as the people implementing them. The School Board has to have a competent and quality vision for the school system. The Superintendent they hire must also be competent to bring that vision to fruition. I don’t believe that we have either of these elements in place. MBWA at Knox is destined to be ridiculous.

Too bad. In small system like ours it could be great.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Let’s Write a Novel Chapter 5, Paragraphs 1 & 2

"Princess Alice", 1902

Note: The novel from the start can be found by clicking on Lets Write a Novel , my associated blog. I have recently done a bit of rewriting there so it will be a bit different than the original posts on this blog.
101 North Washington Street.
Chapter 5, Paragraphs 1 & 2

I could easily use to a rather weak metaphor, but I would just as soon not implicate the innocent flatware. Let’s just say Ophelia was raised atypically. Take a look at her nursery at age 5. It wouldn’t be common for a child to have this abundance of space and goods until 100 years later. There were many confluent factors; an only child, 12 room house, wealthy parents, and a mother terribly happy to have a little girl to mold to her ideal of girlhood. She had 3 full rooms. Abraham’s “den” was removed to the downstairs library to give her three adjoining rooms, facing East, overlooking Washington Street. Sara was most excited about the corner room, Ophelia’s studio. Side by side easels, one for the master, Sara, and a tiny replica for the apprentice, Ophelia, took full advantage of the Northern exposure. The middle room was the playroom fully stocked with hobbyhorse and fancy dollhouse and most certainly Teddy Bears. The suite was completed by a quite frilly bedroom done in the shade of blue made so popular by “Princess Alice”, the very popular the lovely daughter of the President.

Sara admired Alice Roosevelt tremendously. What a marvelous modern woman! Alice damn well did what she pleased: smoking cigarettes, zooming about in automobiles alone with men, and partying all night long, all this while living in the White House. Alice was not just a party animal. She was a skilled diplomat as well, helping end the Russo-Japanese War that won her father the Nobel peace Prize. The repressed wives of America loved Alice. Their husbands were less enthusiastic. Sara Weiss wanted Ophelia to be just like Alice but with an added artistic bent. It would be wonderful to have such a daughter. Abraham “guessed” he agreed.


Acronyms make me uneasy. I always wonder what comes next. A special danger is when the acronym is converted to a verb and then used on me! In the case of WBWA, I think that I would hate it if my boss started WBWAing me. Ouch! I’ve been WBWAed!

I call the scholarship that goes into getting a Doctorate of Education, “Educationist Theory” (Or to get in the spirit of this title of this blog, let us call it ET!). ET Educationist Theory, (I repeat for the benefit my regular readers with short term memory problems) is an ersatz scholarship consisting of freely borrowed jargon and broad concepts from other fields of genuine scholarship. ET borrows these legitimate concepts and then uses them as metaphors for educational problems. These ET concepts result in bizarre theories of teaching coming out of University Education Departments on a quite regular basis. Here let me note: I freely admit that I paint with too broad a brush. In point of fact, I have known brilliant Doctors of Education.

My God! There is a long list of this destructive crap that has come out of our Universities in the last 30 years and then imposed upon our students. Ask any veteran elementary school teacher. Think New Math (anti-counting), Whole Language (anti-reading), Self Esteem (classic cart before the horse) and Higher Thinking (anti-rote learning crap that assumed that to have an actual fact in your head was crowding out a kid’s ability to think). All this stuff got it entirely backwards. All this stuff was based upon untold hours of worthless and phony research.

Good News! After 30 or so years of wasted and destructive effort there is now a cadre of educational professionals that seem to be getting their heads around the idea of the scientific method. ISTEP is a good example of what has been needed for quite some time. That is why I am so very pleased with the Exemplary classification, based upon ISTEP results, in the Knox Elementary School. ISTEP isn’t some fancy feel good metaphor for learning. It actually sees if the kids know anything.

So what is MBWA? Management By Walking Around. This is a business management practice that was popular in the 1980’s. It is so common sense that it seems outright stupid to even give it a name, much less an acronym. In a nutshell: a good manager needs to know what is going on in the enterprise she is managing. DUH! Rather than rely on subordinate toadies that regularly cover up problems and pander to their boss, the boss walks around and sees what is really going on. This concept MBWA does require that the boss is competent enough to know what she is observing.

The Knox School Board recently renewed the contract of Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Kimberly A. Knott. I am not privy to the confidential discussions but I did observe that Dr. Knott’s contract was extended for only one year. This shows a certain lack of confidence by the Board. Shortly thereafter Kimberly was escorted about town by Ed Hasnerl. They hit the coffee clutches. I assume the Board told her that they wanted more community involvement. Then she made a few appointments to actually sit in a few Knox classrooms. Of course the Principals arranged the whole thing. I suppose the Board wanted a bit of MBWA.

Dr. Knott was a Physical education instructor prior to becoming an administrator. Do I really need to finish this blog? Why don’t you, my dear reader simply MYOC, that is make your own conclusion..

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Miscellany: Schools and Lilly Scholarships

Dr. Kimberly A. Knott Superintendent

Knox Community School Corporation

In prior blogs, Make it a true merit scholarship and Problems with Merit
I wrote about the Starke County Community Foundation’s Lilly Scholarship. I thought that a follow up may be of interest. There were 2 winners this year. As always, a North-Judson San Pierre Schools’ graduate captured this fabulous $100,000 plus award. This year we do have a Knox graduate. Here are the names:


Lauren Akers, of North Judson, a graduate of North Judson-San Pierre High School, will study math education at Purdue University.


Hope McIntire, of Knox, a graduate of Knox Community High School, will study pre-pharmacy at Purdue University.


The Starke County Community Foundation web site has no information regarding this year's Lilly Awards. Why not? Don't these outstanding students deserve a bit of publicity?


Another follow-up is concerning
Wow! Knox Elementary, Exemplary School. My scoop was correct, the State of Indiana did announce that Knox Elementary was ranked "Exemplary". Again Congratulations! The law breaks schools down every year into five categories. Those categories, from best to worst, are: exemplary, commendable, academic progress, watch and probation Knox High School was in the “Watch” Category The Knox Middle School was scored as “Academic Progress”. One shouldn’t make too big a deal about a “Watch” without knowing the entire story.
There can be some pretty meaningless reasons for the State to issue a “Watch”. So Dr. Knott, Superintendent, of schools, explain away. The school’s web site has zero, nada, nothing. The link called “Dr. Knott’s News” is empty, zero, nada, nothing. Not very impressive is it?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Let’s Write a Novel Chapter 4, Paragraphs 5 & 6

Note: The novel from the start can be found by clicking on Lets Write a Novel , my associated blog. Some corrections and changes appear there as well as some notes and questions I need to address. As you have no doubt noticed, writing a novel is, at least for me, a bit ragged.

101 North Washington Street.

Let’s Write a Novel Chapter 4, Paragraphs 5 & 6
I suppose I shouldn’t make such a fuss about Abe’s little grudge. Of course it would have been much nicer for everybody in the family if he had a clean emotional slate. Ah, but who among us has an emotional tabla rasa? I nurture a grudge towards my Grandfather Abraham because he held a grudge towards my Grandmother Sara. And then his grudge crippled my mother, Ophelia’s happiness, because that she carried a grudge in her gut as if she had swallowed a blacked brick from a tragic home fire. And me? I am writing down this story to get even with Abraham. I guess I know it’s the nature of tragedy, all this grudging nonsense. Why don’t I just get over it and get on with my life? Of course, that is why I am doing this. I want Starke Center, the little townspeople, with their own little problems, not one among them who even remember Abe or Sara but for the old cornerstone on the dilapidated downtown building, these little people who have almost entirely forgotten Ophelia who once was a shining young woman, then later a rich and influential matron, these village folks, only a few who only vaguely remember me, should remember our story. And I don’t really even care about Starke Center. I often an not even certain that I care about Abe or Sara. Perhaps it is just my tight, dark, little grudge, echoing down 3 generations that I care about.


This talk of grudges has my head spinning. What I need to do is just tell the story, the story of Ophelia Weiss. I would like you, my old and new Starke Center acquaintances, to get to know her better.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Mourning at Bass Lake

A place I don't live.

Oh the rending of garments. Oh the gnashing of teeth. Or in more modern parlance: Oh, the pissing. Oh the moaning. Property taxes at Bass Lake are brutal. However, I, blogger Knox Indiana, do not live at Bass Lake, I live in the city of Knox where my property taxes have declined steadily for years. So my complaint is with all the noise from the rending, gnashing, pissing and moaning.

We residents of crappy old Knox have watched the property values of nearby Bass Lake skyrocket. I can say (as can every other schmuck in Knox) that I could have, should have, would have, bought a nice property at the lake for $30,000 back in 1972, or whatever. But I didn’t. So now my homestead is worth $150,000, or whatever. And that crappy cottage at the lake is worth $600,000, or whatever. So, yah, I’m envious.

The psychology of envy is fascinating. Firstly, don’t confuse envy with jealousy: 2 different words, 2 different meanings. Lots of folks use the word incorrectly, thereby ruining the delicious badness of the concept of envy. Jealousy is the feeling you get when someone wants and threatens what you already have. Envy involves somehow hating somebody that has something that you somehow feel that you deserve for yourself. It is strictly a malicious, deliciously evil feeling. Oddly only near-equals or equals are envious. If you were an old incontinent gal in the nursing home, you would be envious of the fart that gets his nappy changed before yours. However you wouldn’t be envious of the Doctor’s new car. Only another Doctor, or more likely, a Lawyer neighbor, would be envious of the new car.

So, yah, I’m envious of those lucky stiffs out at Bass Lake with their million dollar homes. They used to be just like me. Now due to dumb luck they’re rich. So when they piss and moan about $8,000 property tax bills I put on my fake sympathy face and say, “Oh my. It must be tough being rich.”

Seriously folks, (don’t ever believe what somebody says when they preface it with “Honestly” or “Seriously”) this big property tax thing at Bass Lake is a real problem. Honestly, I think something ought to be done about it.

So here is my solution. If a Bass Lake property owner wishes to undo the horrible mistake they made of owning a house that quintupled in value damn near overnight and ended up with an unbearable property tax bill, I’ll trade houses with you. If you don’t want to do that, you can try a reverse mortgage. Or if you simply cannot afford to pay your taxes, no matter how hard you try; realize that you are a poor person trying to live amongst the rich and sell the place. The situation is what is called cognitive dissonance, or trying to have your cake and eat it too.

Honestly. I’m sorry about your big tax bill.

Let’s Write a Novel Chapter 4, Paragraphs 2 (rewrite), 3 & 4

Raphael. Adam and Eve (ceiling panel). 1509-1511.
Fresco. Vaticano, Stanza della Segnatura, Rome
A question for those that believe in a literal interpretation of the Book:
Did Adam and Eve have a belly button?

Note: The novel from the start can be found by clicking on Lets Write a Novel , my associated blog. Some corrections and changes appear there as well as some notes and questions I need to address. As you have no doubt noticed, writing a novel is, at least for me, a bit ragged.

101 North Washington Street.


Let’s Write a Novel Chapter 4, Paragraphs 2 (rewrite), 3 & 4


According to the Book, the first man gave the name woman to his fitting helper created by God from man’s rib. Most all the people of the Book understand that their Book’s stories and names and words are rich with many meanings and great significances. The idea of a plain reading, a literal interpretation, of the book would be exceedingly ignorant. It simply doesn’t make sense that way. After all, man hasn’t one less rib than woman. (However odd it may be that many of their Christian cousins believe as such, despite x-rays to the contrary). What then is the meaning of the naming of woman and her creation from the rib? Ah, of course, that has been debated with passion for thousands of years. And there is a rough sort of consensus of course. An elegant interpretation is that the essential difference of man from beast, the essence of being human, is the power to name. The man’s first act (thus symbolically the most important) was to name the beasts. The meaning of the rib? Ah, that’s a tricky one. Is it that the male is superior to the woman? Although that interpretation isn’t really possible from a close reading of the text, that is how men (not) man have chosen.
Abraham wasn’t a particularly religious man. Sara and he observed an informal and low-keyed religious ritual as compared to the other Jewish families in and about Starke Center. Then and now the Weiss family would be called assimilated. Nevertheless Abe was a member of that ancient people for whom the Book in which the words and names were of importance, beyond significance. That Book was the river that flowed though his veins, through the veins of his ancestors, and would flow, perhaps not forever, but at least through the blood of his offspring.

Ophelia wasn’t a name in that river of meanings, myth and symbols. When his little girl pondered her name, trying to figure out who she was and meant to be, what was she to think? My God, perhaps that she should drown herself? So that is why Abraham Weiss forever held a grudge. It was in his people’s book and blood. It was a man’s and a father’s right. It was a man’s and a father’s delight. Of course he was delighted, delighted and proud beyond words. After 10 years of marriage, he and his beloved were to be blest with a child. He hoped (in vain as it turned out) that it would be a son so that little knot in his gut, that slight twist of fear, resentment, and anger would be forgotten.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Wow! Knox Elementary, Exemplary School

A handy little learning aid circa 1763

On June 6th Dr. Suellen Reed, Superintendent of Public Instruction will announce the results of Public Law 221 (Indiana’s school accountability legislation) Category Placements for all School Corporations and Schools. Knox Elementary School has been named an exemplary school.
P.L. 221 places Indiana school corporations and schools into one of five categories based upon “performance” and “improvement” data from the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus (ISTEP+). The categories are:


  1. Exemplary Progress (the best!)

  2. Commendable Progress

  3. Academic Progress

  4. Academic Watch

  5. Academic Probation.

Placements are based on the percentage of all students who pass English and math tests (averaged across subjects and grade levels) and the improvement in passing percentage of students over time.

Knox Elementary teachers and administration deserve our heartfelt appreciation and thanks for the very hard work that went into attaining this designation. I am convinced that this is quite meaningful and accurate. This means that our elementary school students are reading and writing and ciphering better than any time in our recent history.

I don’t suppose that Harold Welter, school board member will retract his comment, “more pay for less work”, regarding the last teacher contract. The contract negotiations aren’t going well. One wonders how many good teachers will want to stay in such an adversarial environment. I suppose the school board members will be quite happy to take some glory here. Let’s be clear about this. The School Board had little or nothing to do with this.

But for the moment let us all be happy about Kindergarteners reading and 5th Graders not going backwards as they seem to do in so many schools. Bravo!

Let’s Write a Novel Chapter 4, Paragraphs 1 and 2

Der Engel verhindert die Opferung Isaaks
(An angel prevents the sacrifice of Isaac)
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, 1634
Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Note: The novel from the start can be found by clicking on Lets Write a Novel , my associated blog. Some corrections and changes appear there as well as some notes and questions I need to address. As you have no doubt noticed, writing a novel is, at least for me, a bit ragged.
101 North Washington Street.


Chapter 4, Paragraphs 1 and 2

וַיִּצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים מִן-הָאֲדָמָה, כָּל-חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה וְאֵת כָּל-עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם, וַיָּבֵא אֶל-הָאָדָם, לִרְאוֹת מַה-יִּקְרָא-לוֹ; ְכֹל אֲשֶׁר
יִקְרָא-לוֹ הָאָדָם נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה, הוּא שְׁמוֹ.
Genesis 2:19
And the LORD God formed out of the Earth all the wild beasts and all the birds of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each creature, that would be its name.

Shortly after Abraham was born he was given the name of the father of Judaism (and Christianity and Islam). And Sara’s name, of course, was from Sarah, the wife of the original Abraham and the mother of Judaism and Christianity. (Hagar is the mother of Islam.) Jews are the people of the book. Words, and most especially names, are filled with ancient history and meanings, special meanings, complex, hidden, superstitious, poetic, allegorical. All children ponder their own names, trying to tease out their parent’s secret expectations, the special destiny or fate connected with the name. It probably was not entirely coincidental that Sara married Abraham and that their parents were pleased with union and the special significance of the joining of these 2 names.

According to the Book, the first man gave the name woman to his fitting helper created by God from man’s rib. Most all the people of the Book understand that their Book’s stories and names and words are rich with many meanings and great significances. The idea of a plain reading, a literal interpretation, of the book would be exceedingly ignorant. After all, man hasn’t one less rib than woman. (However odd it may be that many of their Christian cousins believe as such, despite x-rays to the contrary).

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Let’s Write a Novel Chapter 3, Conclusion

John Everett Millais, 1829 - 1896
Ophelia, 1852
Tate Gallery London
Note: The novel from the start can be found by clicking on Lets Write a Novel , my associated blog. Some corrections and changes appear there as well as some notes and questions I need to address. As you have no doubt noticed, writing a novel is, at least for me, a bit ragged. This little bit cost me a lot of grief as it introduces the heroine, if only her name.
101 North Washington Street
Chapter 3, Conclusion

Today, in 2007, Starke Center’s finest knows how many pickles Peter Piper picked, however knowing what a peck actually is proves more elusive. In 1907 Starke Center’s finest not only knew how many pickles were picked, but even what a peck was. More impressively they knew a little about Plutarch, Petrarch, Plato, Pliny, Pindar, and perhaps (the perverse) even knew Petronius. There is a cultural gulf or chasm between us and them, difficult for us to fathom. Then Chautaqua was all the rage. Especially in rural communities there was a hunger for learning and culture. Classics and Great Books with 10-year study guides were marketed to the Lady’s (even some men’s) Reading Societies. Concerts and lectures were widely appreciated and attended. So it was considered agreeable, even good, that Mr. Fritz Leiber did a bit of lecturing to supplement the acting. It made the scenes that much more enjoyable. Fritz did 3 different takes on “Alas, poor Yorick!” with Hamlet growing more mad each rendition. So the audience’s expectations were trebly gratified.

Mr. Leiber and Miss Drew cleverly adapted Queen Gertrude’s description of Ophelia’s drowning. Ethel, as Ophelia, danced gracefully onto the stage. Ophelia’s impossibly long and curly blond tresses were a Pre-Raphaelite daydream. Cascades of flowers and ivies were entwined in her hair and trailed down her beautifully full (10 yards of seeded batiste), luxuriant nightgown. Leiber, still attired as Hamlet, stood just on stage and in melodious voice began,

“There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples….”

Onstage was a simple set. A willow with flowering vine overhanging a mirrored brook. Ophelia stretched over the brook grasping the slim willow bough as the voice continued…

“There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide..”

The audience gasped in sympathy as poor Ophelia fell into the clutches of the brook. Her hair spread gloriously over the mirror as she the began to quietly sing bits of folk songs.

And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.”

It might be stated with some hyperbole that, “there wasn’t a dry eye in the house”. In any case, Sara Weiss was quite touched, as we shall soon see.

Later that evening, upstairs at 101 North Washington Street as Mr. And Mrs. Weiss prepared for bed, Sara jolted poor unsuspecting Abraham as she quietly said, “If it’s a girl, I shall name her Ophelia.” And that, my dear reader, is how my poor mother, received her rather sad name.

Lawyers I Have Known and Hated, Part 1

The Starke County Election Board has asked for an emergency appropriation for legal expenses to defend themselves against Mayor Dennis Estok. The County will have to pay a Valparaiso law firm $200.00 per hour.

Starke Circuit Court Judge Hall has recused himself from the case. This is appropriate and I applaud the Judge for taking this sensible and correct action.

Meanwhile, Estok, henceforth to be called Idiot-Mayor and his attorney, Bedrock, henceforth to be called Idiot-Lawyer, have ‘refined’ their ‘case’. Why I call these two characters idiots is that they think their case actually has merit. It seems Estok (oops! I mean Idiot-Mayor) and Idiot-Lawyer (OK! Now I’m hitting on all 1 cylinder) BELIEVE, deep in their parsimonious skulls, that Idiot-Mayor somehow got screwed in the election. My God! The supposed ‘refinement’ of the legal geniuses is that now they do not accuse their enemy and political opponent Mr. Chambers of torturing old folks in the nursing home or otherwise twisting people’s arms to intimidate these innocent and presumably simple-minded voting folks. Now they claim that voters were encouraged by nefariously hazy unidentified Chambers’ advocates of illegally voting absentee.

Idiot-Mayor and Idiot-Lawyer read on the “Application for Absentee Ballot” the following. “I [the absentee voter] have a specific, reasonable expectation of being absent from the county on election day during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.” There are 9 other reasons listed on the absentee ballot as well. The voter needs to check off one of these reasons. So I suppose that the absentee voters most likely read these reasons. Then they have to sign the form “under penalty of perjury”. There is also a place on the form for those nefarious people that assist a person filling out the Absentee Ballot Application. The penalty is quite severe for screwing around. The punishment is "perjury AND Class D felony" (3 years and $10 grand). OK that’s clear as can be, isn’t it? It doesn’t say that if you cheat the election will be invalid does it?

Most of us understand that the United States, the State of Indiana, and the Starke County Election Commission have actually been encouraging absentee voting as a means of increasing voter turnout. Allow me to quote from a press release dated October 17, 2003 from Todd Rokita, Indiana Secretary of State: “And now you can vote absentee for any reason at all if you are willing to stop by the county clerk’s office during any of the 30 days before election day.” And I have already mentioned in a previous blog, if election laws were broken, as these idiots are claiming, then they have a duty to report that fraud to ol’ Todd mentioned above. Here is a little assistance from me to these 2 idiots: They can get the official
Election Fraud and Grievance Form online at from the Indiana Secretary of State. Why don’t they do that and save the taxpayers of Starke County about $50,000 in attorney fees? Morons!

I do have a suggestion to the Starke County Election Board. They need stop this rotten, stupid BS right now. I think a suit for bringing a frivolous action is very appropriate. An ethics and incompetence complaint to the Indiana Bar Association might make sense as well. Let Idiot-Mayor and Idiot-Lawyer risk a little something in this lawsuit, not just the taxpayers.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Let’s Write a Novel Chapter 3, Paragraphs 5 and 6

.................Kenneth Branagh and poor Yorick...............
Today's trivia question to prepare you for the “Clash of Civilizations”:
I'll bet you can't finish this quote by providing the last word in the sentence:
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him.........:
Click here and Scoll down to "Interests" for the answer.


Note: The novel from the start can be found by clicking on Lets Write a Novel , my associated blog. Some corrections and changes appear there as well as some notes and questions I need to address. As you have no doubt noticed, writing a novel is, at least for me, a bit ragged.



101 North Washington Street


Chapter 3, Paragraphs 5 and 6


The Weiss and Warner Opera House was located above the Weiss Department Store. Abraham Weiss and Tom Werner erected the building, the grandest on Main Street, fully intending the dual use. The Opera House, on the 2nd floor and its balcony, was well booked. There were regular dances and many traveling troupes providing a fair range of entertainments. The downtown Starke Center railroad station with service from Chicago to Fort Wayne and beyond was only a short walk from the opera house and the Nickel Plate Hotel and Restaurant. It was a logical stop for entertainment ventures with a free day on their hands, either coming out of Chicago or on their way to the country’s 2nd city.


The weather having turned a bit blustery, Abe and Sara accepted the short ride to “Impressions from the Bard” in the Werner’s carriage. The crowd settled in expecting to be well entertained. In those days the wonderment and charm of the theater was more easily attainable. Entrancing the audience didn’t require elaborate sets, costumes, or ultra realistic effects. Reasonably talented acting and presentation did the trick. The audience was quite familiar with Shakespeare. The “Complete Works” were in many households and the book wasn’t being used as a decorative accessory on the coffee table. It was read; read in school and at home; and enjoyed, (which I understand is quite hard to believe in this day and age). This audience, that unsettled spring evening in Starke Center, expected and knew that they would receive a familiar mediation on life’s frailty from a handsome young Prince Hamlet, on a fresh grave with poor Yorick’s rotted skull in hand. They were speculating aloud as to what else might be in store when the house lights dimmed, a thunder sheet rumbled, and they quickly schussed or were schussed

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Let’s Write a Novel Chapter 3, Paragraph 3 – 4

Note: The novel from the start can be found by clicking on Lets Write a Novel , my associated blog. Some corrections and changes appear there as well as some notes and questions I need to address. As you have no doubt noticed, writing a novel is, at least for me, a bit ragged.

101 North Washington Street
Chapter 3, Paragraphs 3 - 4

It would be a safe bet that Abe was the only man in Starke Center possessing a Tuxedo. There was no occasion for formal wear much less the fine gradations that would later become known as white tie and black tie. These fine distinctions of fine living that were so carefully recorded in the aforementioned T & C magazine were completely irrelevant to life in the Center. It is true that Abe and Sara were prone to feeling and acting superior to their neighbors in Starke Center. From our vantage point we find it odd that they were not accused by their friends and neighbors of “putting on airs”. But it was well understood that Mr. and Mrs. Weiss were indeed superior. They had been to Europe.
Abraham Weiss had money and handled it with the ease displayed by the 2nd generation of wealth. Sara Weiss was educated, artistic, beautiful and very stylish. Anyway, the people who might care, Mrs. Werner and the other members of the Woman’s Arts Council admired the mantel of culture worn so gracefully. Envy isn’t possible when the gap is too wide. The poor don’t envy the rich. The rich envy the more rich.

I think we could skip a detailed description of dinner. Suffice it to say that Fritz and Ethel were both in the early stages of what would be good careers. They were sincerely grateful for the patronage of the Woman’s Arts Council and the free meal. They guests admired Sara’s painting and poetry. At the piano Mrs. Werner accompanied the beautiful Miss Drew singing sweetly some popular melodies. Mr. Leiber was always good at a party with his vast repertoire, from parlor magic to vaudeville. It seems so inviting and utterly pleasant doesn’t it? At least it seems so in comparison to watching “American Idol” on the television.

Expect Showers

I wondered aloud in my last blog about Mayor Estok’s lawyer. Seems it is Martin Bedrock. (I know it can be confusing but he is not an animated character from the stone age. Too bad. He could probably get a nice settlement for Wilma due to Fred’s constant abuse). He is however, consul for Knox City Council. I think he has offered legal advice to the Mayor during the Council meetings. There just seems to be something inherently wrong with a lawyer representing the Mayor in his official capacity and getting a check from the government and then also representing the mayor in an election dispute. There was a City Council seat decided in this election. If election results are thrown out as Estok seems to want, then I suppose the Council race is also invalid. Maybe there is no conflict here but I don’t like the smell of it.

Martin Bedrock is a conservative Republican. What a strange choice for a Democrat Mayor. I guess I wouldn’t be surprised to see Estok switch parties and run as a Republican in the Fall. Seems like the Republican clouds are gathering.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Poor Loser

Today's trivia question to prepare you for the “Clash of Civilizations”:
The Fox and the Grapes is a fable attributed to who?
Click here and Scoll down to "Interests" for the answer.

Mayor Estok surprised me. He has contested the election. He lost by 13 votes out of about 1,000. The suit seems frivolous or just plain stupid. According to The NewsHawk (I know. God Forbid! We should rely of that!) Estok said that because of the high absentee vote count, “I became uneasy about the legality of the ballots.” Well he got 94 absentees and Chambers got 156.

Newsflash to Estok: This just shows you got out hustled at the nursing home. For whatever reason Chambers was more liked by that crowd.

My reaction as a Democrat to your actions: You stink. Unless you turn up a lot more than your vague Bull Shit, all that you can possibly do is hurt the party, and hurt yourself. You shot yourself in the foot with your handling of the police matter, and the (essential) firing of Chambers for no good reason. Your instincts for self-destruction are now running in high gear. May I remind you that the Judge is a strongly partisan Republican? If he feels like damaging the Democrat Party, he will hear this case. It certainly won’t be on the merits.

I shall never again vote for you. And I urge other Democrats to follow suit.

P.S. The candidates have an opportunity to examine and challenge absentee ballots prior to their being counted. If a voter was not an eligible the challenge should have been presented to the election judge at that time. Any knowledge of illegal harassment and pressure should have caused a criminal complaint to be filed with the police and a police investigation. At this point, after the absentee ballots have been opened then mixed with the other absentee votes, it is impossible to identify any so-called illegal ballots. Even if Estok could show that there were problems, it is too late to do anything about it. He had a legal duty to prevent those so-called illegal ballots from being cast. By not doing so prior to the opening of the ballots, he assisted in the law breaking by his complacancy. Now his complaint is silly and stupid. It makes me doubt the veracity of his complaint. I wonder who his stupid attorney is anyway? What an incredible waste. It's just sour grapes.