Having Class Outside

Today was a beautiful day in Ohio.  The sky was bright, the sun shone down with friendly rays, and it was unseasonably warm.  Looking longingly out the window from the conference room of an office building, I was reminded of grade school and those fabulous days when you convinced your teacher to hold class outside.

It usually happened on the first warm day of spring.  You would walk into your classroom through a landscape reeking of grass and growth, with flowers starting to bloom and birds chirping.  One of the kids in the class would raise the possibility with the teacher, and then other kids would join in.  Soon the pleas would build to a crescendo:  “Please, Miss Tibbles?  Please???  We promise we’ll be good!”  And then the teacher, who probably was dealing with a touch of spring fever herself, would relent, and we would go outside and sit on the asphalt of the playground to listen to the day’s lessons.  And, because we appreciated the gesture and didn’t want to get our nice teacher into trouble, we actually would try to be good.

I always had a soft spot for teachers who agreed to hold class outside.  Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it showed some real flexibility — and real confidence in their ability to control their class.  And when it happened, it made those rare spring days that much more special.  Who doesn’t look back fondly on the days when they got to have class outside?

The Vermilion Town Hall

The Vermilion Town Hall is found on one of the wooded town squares near the railroad tracks and the downtown area.  It was built in 1883, at a time when Ohio was booming and towns like Vermilion were interested in displaying their prosperity and success in tangible form.  Town halls were good ways to make that kind of statement in a civic-minded, yet unmistakable, way.

The Town Hall is an imposing brick structure with an eclectic architectural style that includes large circular windows, towers, and an odd bit of ornamental work over the doorway that looks like two swans yelling at each other.  I’m sure the distinctive architectural flourishes were the source of great pride when the Town Hall was built in the 1880s — but now, perhaps, the town government may look at them more as the subject of nagging, and ongoing, maintenance costs.

What Price Political Endorsements?

One good thing about this year’s seemingly endless Republican presidential campaign — it has demonstrated, clearly and conclusively, how empty and meaningless political “endorsements” really are.

We know this because Rick Santorum endorsed Mitt Romney in 2008, saying that Romney was the clear conservative candidate who could be trusted.  Now Santorum is arguing that Romney is a wimpy flip-flopper who couldn’t possibly be expected to govern in accordance with conservative principles.  What has changed?  Not much — other than that now Santorum is running against Romney for the 2012 Republican nomination.

We should all be grateful to Santorum for giving us such a powerful demonstration of how silly endorsements are.  Which really reflects Santorum’s beliefs — his wholehearted statements of support for Romney in 2008, or his strong criticisms of Romney in 2012?  The correct answer, in all likelihood, is neither.  In 2008, Santorum probably wanted to weigh in on the race — because it is hard for any career politician to remain fully on the sidelines — and to have a chit in the bank if Romney won.  In 2012, Santorum has been possessed by his own lust for national office, and he’s not going to let his past statements get in the way of his ambitions.

It’s hard for me to believe that any voter attaches much weight to endorsements.  After Santorum’s abrupt about-face, no voter should.  Whether they come from Republicans or Democrats, political endorsements are the product of calculation, not conviction.

Monday Night Not So Madness

A few months ago I was lucky enough to be asked by a great group of guys to join their pool team based out of Halftime Tavern and last night we went out with a whimper finishing in ninth place in the 2011-2012 Winter League. Our final record was 39-66 so there is plenty of time for practice and room for improvement during the summer before we start back up in the fall. Thanks again guys (me, Eric, Nevin, Mike and Nick) this was a lot of fun.