Good guys (sometimes) wear white hats

It’s great fun to sit by the stream and watch the oak leaves start raining down on the earth. They’ll become fertilizer to make more leaves next year. I do like a place with seasons.

Soon will be time to get Babe the Blue (Harley) Moose onto some curving mountain roads, among the multi-colored maples, birches, poplars and other natural topiary.

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Rural Directions

Friends, meet Staci “Mrs. Matt” Gower. Readers of the Gettysburg Times may remember her as Staci George, an energetic police and fire reporter who eagerly responded to blazing infernos, kept her fingers on a plethora of social events, and once returned to the office with a tip that led to a Public Service award for the paper.

Staci is a detail-oriented young woman who, responding to my request for information to feed the GPS, led us thusly to a diner for the post-rehearsal repast, last weekend:

“When leaving the church, go down the road toward the beer distributor on the left (you’ll see on your way to church). Continue reading

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Granddaughter stars on discovery channel

Bluebird hovers at the houseOn the way from one place to another, she and me and Grady the Golden and the Jeep crossed over a stream. She saw the herd of cattle enjoying the summer afternoon.

“That’s pretty cool,” I commented.

She gave me a thumbs up.

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Pa. residents share Chesapeake Bay waterfront

A recent newspaper story about efforts to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay noted Pennsylvania does not have frontage on the bay. That is not quite accurate, unless one is a real estate seller.

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“Not all those who wander are lost”

Stairway to unknown placesThe title quote comes from a poem by J.R.R. Tolkein, but it is something I knew without knowing I knew long before reading the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Many of us who enjoy “nature” go hiking. Down Under, I’m told, Australians go on a walkabout. I always have preferred to aimlessly wander even on seemingly well-defined pathways, with little or no clear destination in mind.

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Coming up: all new episodes of “Blood, Brawn and …”

I thought I’d write this week about nature. Maybe about birds, or about the compost pile we’ve started behind my home by digging up and chipping a pile of brush, beneath which we found tons of worms.

But she won’t stop haunting me, the 25-year-old lass, twinkling blue eyes, light-brown-sugar hair pouring in almost-ruly curls around her face, her young body scattered …

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Coast to coast, water supplies severely stressed

The nightly television news tells seemingly disconnected stories.

California is suffering a historic drought in the middle of its winter “rainy” season.

Power plants have been forced to reduce output in the summer as the Great Lakes, several rivers and an ocean used to cool the machinery become too shallow or too warm —or both.

Earlier this month, a Freedom Industries storage tank leaked 7,500 gallons of coal-processing chemical into the Elk River near Charleston, W.Va., to be sucked into a West Virginia American Water treatment facility about a mile downriver.

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Get the motor runnin’

You know you are closing in on high mileage when your calendar, once stuffed with schedules of trips to strange places, becomes full of schedules of trips to the service department.

Every other week, Sunday morning, I sit down to refill my pill box.

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(Unnatural) nature

Last week, I took my granddaughter and her best friend to the local swimming pool. The aroma of bacteria-killing chemicals assaulted us as we entered the pool area. Within about a half hour, one of the girls came to me.

“Do my eyes look red,” she asked.

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Shinseki is out. But are the vets in?

Recently, I needed a prescription. My doctor called it in and later I went to the drug store to pick it up.

I am old enough to be on Medicare, but I didn’t buy the extra part that pays for prescriptions. I also am retired from the U.S. Navy and therefore covered by TriCare For Life, the current version of continued medical benefits for military veterans. It pays, except when it doesn’t.

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There are more worlds than revealed in history textbooks

A favorite tee-shirt of mine shows four Native Americans prepared for battle. Around the image are the words, “Homeland Security / Fighting terrorism since 1492.” I’m always amazed when people don’t get the message.

“In fourteen-hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” And so began a dedicated effort by predominantly white Europeans to erase cultures which had existed for at least centuries in the “new” world.

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We’re all House Sparrows

A few months ago, a pair of English House Sparrows began guarding what they intended would eventually be the place they raised their offspring. Like most of us, they chased away interlopers, including the bluebirds we human yard owners hoped would make a home there.

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Thanks, from the heart

One of my favorite quotes is from Will Rogers: “Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.”

Like an old car, I have parts that don’t work as well as they once did. Two weeks ago I visited the doctor for a quarterly check to see that my parts were working, if not as they should, at least not worse than they did three months earlier.

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That’s a mid-size car??

My wife-slash-Resident Travel Agent and I went to Florida recently. We left my Jeep in Long Term Parking and flew to Fort Lauderdale, where I signed for a rental car to use for the week.

Renting a car for a trip actually is a good way to go. You get a fairly new vehicle, and all you need do is drive – and turn it in when you are done for someone else to clean out any dog hairs or French fries you might have dropped between the seats.

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Birches are meant to be climbed, bent

“I should prefer to have some boy bend them, / As he went out and in …” Birches, by Robert Frost.

Better a boy than an ice storm should bend the birches. A girl could bend them, as well, if a girl is in the house, and requires exploratory forays into a nearby forest. To climb a really tall tree is to gain a sense of accomplishment not available to parents and other adults who are well advised to stick to the lower, thicker branches.

And to have Mom worried that you might fall is to have an opportunity to show her, “No, I won’t.” There is no finer feeling than to tell her you will not fall, and then prove it.

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Japan, Ukraine foreshadow environmental risks in PA

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 5/9/2014)

Nuclear disaster in Japan and aggression in Ukraine could be good for natural gas producers in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region. For Pennsylvania taxpayers, not so much.

Much of western and central Europe buys about a third of its natural gas from Russia. That’s a lot of countries wondering how they will cope if Russian President Vladimir Putin makes good on his threats to close the valve.

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Welcome to Terra II, maybe

An exciting piece of news crossed the television screen last week, sandwiched between a missing airplane (“Breaking news: Searchers still have not found Malaysian Flight 370.) and Russian troops daring the Ukraine army to come out and play.

The news was the discovery of a planet that may be capable of supporting life as we know it. It didn’t get a lot of play – couple mentions during the day and it was done – but it’s pretty big news in the history of human-kind. It is the first planet that is both the right size and the right distance from its sun for its climate to possibly have water and other features essential to human existence. Continue reading

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Prevention and preparedness: The pillars of SAAFE-T

Staci's thumbnailGuest column by Staci L. George

Be proactive, not simply reactive.

That is the idea that ignited Todd Rosenthal’s establishment of SAAFE-T – an acronym for Situational Awareness & Assailant Force Evasion Training. It was founded in February 2013 and is based in Annapolis.

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The world beyond my window

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 4/18/2014)

The world is coming alive with the warmth and light of Spring – this week’s below-freezing day notwithstanding.

A little bit ago, there was a bird singing loudly in joy at the edge of my back yard. I couldn’t find him to discover his name or photograph his appearance, but it was enough to hear his robust love song.

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