Fall Fever!

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Mid-October is the essence of autumn.  This is the time of frosty mornings, crisp colors, Friday night football, and chilled apple cider. All of these are serene moments of enjoyment to be savored before the onslaught of winter’s wrath.  Rachel and I have been seizing upon some of the nicer days to go on some hikes.  Yesterday we stumbled upon this fiery orange-eyed guy. I’ve always had a soft spot for box turtles, and this guy was gorgeous in all of his color.  Here are a few more color-soaked scenes of autumn. SIGH, I’m enjoying them because all of this means cold, gray days can’t be far away. This is a gorgeous panorama of colors from my mother in law’s back-porch….ahhh, if there were just a way to press the pause button and hold these colors for a few more weeks!



Dead Mall….

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My hometown used to feature a bustling mall by the interstate, a shining beacon to capitalism and commerce crammed with trendy stores and restaurants.  But as my city’s economics changed so too did its retail landscape.  Quaint boutiques were replaced by “Cash for Gold” stores and the city basically went into a retail death dive and dragged our housing and city services down with it (my town doesn’t even have a public swimming pool that it can scrape together the funds to open).  Cities are cyclical and I think Middletown, Ohio will one day rise again – one day.  But for now it’s still mired in a funk and nowhere is that more evident than the once teeming Towne Mall.  The mall was once home to such marquee shops as The Gap, Waldenbooks, Dillards, Spencer Gifts, the whole usual mix of shops.  Now, it’s a shuttered ghost town. Somehow a Bath & Body Works hangs on inside and a Radio Shack.  But Radio Shacks are always empty anyway, right?

These are some scenes from inside the belly of the beast on what would normally be a teeming time at a mall.  Crazy, one of the photos below is of the center of the mall, the hub, the crux…where teenagers used to linger and loiter, families met after shopping…now….nothing….depressing.  Watch this little clip of me walking through the mall at what should be a busy time of day: about 5 p.m. on a weekday.

Like the cities that serve them, malls are cyclical beasts.  Sometimes malls reinvent themselves and survive, other times they die a slow torturous death like my hometown mall.  Seems I hardly ever go to traditional “indoor malls” these days anyway and maybe that is an overall trend?  Our slice of southwest Ohio seems to have moved towards those outdoor “lifestyles centers”.  I actually prefer those, stores are easier to get to and one gets to breathe fresh air as opposed to the mall contaminated stale air.

I have been to the Mall of America in the Twin Cities. I found myself kind of underwhelmed with the whole thing, it was basically just a couple of malls stacked on top of one another.  I guess to survive a long Minnesota winter that kind of thing is needed.  So, has your hometown mall survived? If so, why do think it has?








My First Debate…

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My First Debate...

CAPTION: President George H. W. Bush, Ross Perot, and Bill Clinton after their first debate.

Tonight is the first Presidential debate, which will attract north of over 40 million viewers.  Will you be among them? I’ll be tuning in for sure.

I already know who I am going to vote for in this election, but I like to think I have an open enough mind that if either of the candidates creates a really compelling case that I would consider it.  I don’t think either of them will say anything to change my mind, but I am open to it.

Each Presidential debate creates its own indelible moments:  in 2000, Al Gore’s relentless “sighing”, in 1992 President Bush checking his watch, and in 1988 Lloyd Bentsen demolishing Dan Quayle.

The first year I was able to cast a vote in the Presidential election was 1992, that was the year that Ross Perot upended the system with his electrifying third party bid.   I was swept up in the excitement and cast my first-ever Presidential ballot for the billionaire Texan.  I often wonder what “might have been?” had he not self-destructed with his erratic behavior.  His debate performances that year probably really moved the dial in his favor, but not enough.  So, will you be watching tonight?  And anyone willing to share who you cast your first-ever vote for President?