The Rehabilitation Quandary

Last night, on our way to a visit with Richard in Columbus, Missouri, Kish and I spent the night in Terre Haute, Indiana.  (For the record, Terre Haute means “upland.”)  We stayed in a Candlewood Suites downtown.

IMG_5032One block away was a magnificent movie theater — the Indiana.  Located on a corner, it had a fantastic wraparound front, a central ticket window, a fine neon sign, and especially beautiful, detailed stone or plaster work above the entrance.  You could easily imagine walking into the theater to watch new releases like The Wizard of Oz or Gone With the Wind or some other film from the golden era of Hollywood.

I could only imagine what the interior looked like — because the Indiana was closed, of course.  Like many of the magnificent downtown theaters in America, it has fallen out of favor in an era of multiplexes and cinemas where a dozen films are offered and some theater screens as only slight larger than the big screen TV offered at Best Buy.

There was a big dumpster outside the Indiana, and a small piece of machinery that indicated there was a rehabilitation effort underway.  That’s the big quandary for towns like Terre Haute, I suppose.  You’ve got tremendous structures from your glory days, but they just aren’t economical anymore.  What do you do with them?  Do you sink money into them, and hope that you can figure out a way to keep them busy and marginally profitable?  Or do you just recognize that societal forces have sent structures like the Indiana the way of the dodo?

I say give it a shot.  Keep the Indiana, and hope that you can find a way to support something that is beautiful and unique.

Fall Is Aptly Named

IMG_5026The leaves have started to fall from the trees fronting the Webner household.  Like little pellets of gold, they add a dash of color to the sidewalk and the front walk.  It’s fun to rustle the leaves as you walk to retrieve the mail.

I’m sorry that summer has ended, but I must confess that I love autumn.  As the leaves change color and drop to the ground, I acknowledge that fall is aptly named.

Attack Of The Giant, Venomous, Flesh-Dissolving Hornets

Shaanxi Province is in northwest China, near the border with Mongolia.  It is home to the Wei River, mountains, and deserts.  It was the founding place of many feudal dynasties.  Its capital, Xi’an, is an ancient city that was the eastern end of the fabled silk road.

And now Shaanxi Province can add another chapter to its rich and storied history:  huge, killer hornets are killing citizens by the dozens.  The hornets are of the vespa mandarinia variety — the largest hornet in the world, as big as a man’s thumb, with vivid yellow and black coloring.  These gentle creatures have stingers that are six millimeters long and carry venom so strong it can dissolve human flesh.  Those unfortunate people who are stung by the hornets not only have to deal with unsightly dissolved flesh bite marks, they often die of kidney failure or analphylactic shock.

According to the South China Morning Post, 42 people in Shaanxi Province have died of hornet stings since July, and more than a thousand have been stung.  The hornets are more active than in the past, and Chinese authorities theorize that, with increasing development in the province, the hornets are moving into cities like Ankang in force.  They are attracted by human sweat, bright colors, and sweet odors, such as from alcohol or perfume.  They also focus on sudden movements, like running people.

So, you’re sitting at an outdoor cafe in Shaanxi Province, cooling off after a vigorous walk through town, enjoying an adult beverage and admiring the bright costumes of your fellow patrons, when suddenly you hear a queer high-pitched buzzing, see the other customers scatter, and then notice an airborne phalanx of thumb-sized black-and-yellow flesh-dissolving insects heading your way.

Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to be planning a trip to Shaanxi Province anytime soon.