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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Columns & Editorials

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“It is not fit for man nor beast outside”

Mice and voles live in the “subnivean” zone. The area between the snow pack and ground. The snow acts as an insulator from the cold temperatures and it also provides protection from predators.

The first time I heard that saying was when I was a little kid, it was 15 below, the wind howling, snow blowing and I was freezing. I wondered how the animals, insects, and plants were able to survive these harsh conditions. I was able to bundle up in layers, go inside and sit by the fireplace, or get...

Puppy Tails

One look outside and Doodle Dog knew spring had apparently taken a detour or was suddenly lost and hadn’t bothered to ask for directions. The floppy-eared puppy is all for enjoying the scenic route but spring needed to hurry up and bring its warm weather with it. The mounds of snow grew taller than the little puppy by the...

Notes from the vineyard

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a bottle of wine that was from a small region in France. After I popped the cork, I noticed that it said mise en bouteille au chateau on it. I know that “bouteille” means bottled and I knew that “chateau” meant house so I assumed that it meant that the wine...

It Must Be February

Must be February, the Easter candy is on the shelves. And the “cabin fever news stories” are circulating.  That’s what appears when all of the news outlets are sick and tired of going hysterical about the weather—record-high snowfall, record-low temperatures, funny (or not-so) pictures of people digging out, names for the storms (How about Hortense?  We haven’t seen that name...

Getting Your Household Cash Flow Back Under Control

Where does your money go? If you find yourself asking that question from time to time, it may relate to cash flow within your household. Having a cash flow management system may be instrumental in restoring some financial control. It is harder for a middle-class household to maintain financial control these days. If you find yourself too often living on...

To Add Hydraulics or Not – Part II

I made the decision to have hydraulic brakes put on my 1930 Model “A”.   The task is beyond my capabilities due to my age, arthritis, and a lack of machining capabilities.  It is not as if there are antique auto restoration places on every corner and most modern auto shops would not go near this job.  Where to...

The Latest on Social Security: Recipients get a raise in 2015. Ideas for reform are numerous.

Social Security benefits are increasing 1.7% in 2015. This marks the fourth straight yearly cost-of-living adjustment, following a 1.5% COLA for 2014.1  The average monthly Social Security payment for a single retiree increases by $22 to $1,328. The average retired couple will get $2,176 per month in 2015 (a $36 monthly increase). A single retiree claiming benefits at the full...

Cabin Fever Factoids

Being stuck inside(Where it’s marginally warmer) for extended periods can send a person(at least this one)over the edge, or at least out on the slippery part. While out there, one can run across some quirkily weird items in the news, To wit...

Feedback and Food For Thought

We are some six weeks into this topic of 65 and Single Again. I have gotten a great deal of feedback about the articles via e-mail, over the phone, and more often than not, in person. A great many people seem to identify with this predicament of life. The column mirrors their struggle and they are searching for solutions. As well, it has generated a good bit of thought on my part, re-thinking certain things, postulating new, and contemplating where to go next.

New IRS Ruling on Rollovers of After-Tax Amounts

Do you contribute to a qualified retirement plan at work, such as a 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan? Does your account have a large balance? If so, you’ll be glad to hear about a new IRS ruling that may give you a nice tax break in the future.    At some point in your life, you may want to roll...

Red Letter Day

A RED-LETTER DAY Or a red something, anyway.  As I have said before, you can’t make this stuff up. It seems that in Sheboygan, WI a group of brewers has got together to raise money for charity by being featured—mostly in the buff—posing in a calendar which will be sold online or at numerous bars, liquor stores and groceries in Wisconsin...

Trying To Embrace The Dating Dot Coms Part 5 of a Series

The Dating Dot Com phenomenon came on the scene in the 1990s and since then has developed exponentially into a massive industry.  You can’t watch evening TV or pick up a popular magazine without encountering advertisements touting this or that dot com which all but guarantee that they will find the right person for you.  Many of us, from...

Puppy Tails

After all the walking around town he’s been doing lately, Doodle Dog decided today he was going to relax on the front porch and enjoy the view of the neighborhood from there...

Stupid Virus

So somebody on a slow news day—Newsweek was mentioned but the internet picked the mention up and ran with it—called it the “stupid virus” and implied that any lagging intellectual powers among us might be the fault of an insidious invasion by these viral marauders...

Financial Considerations for 2015

2015 is less than two months away. Fall is the time when investors look for ways to lower their taxes and make some financial changes. This is an ideal time to schedule a meeting with a financial, tax or estate planning professional. How do economists see next year unfolding? Morningstar sees 2.0-2.5% GDP for the U.S. for 2015, with housing,...


I love the holidays – friends, family, food and plenty of desserts! But being a dry red wine drinker, desserts do not always seem to pair well with the wine. So what options do you have for those holiday treats – besides either giving up wine or giving up dessert – let me give you some options. For sweet wine...

It’s A Failure!

A failure of Social Studies Education, I calls it. The recent election, that is…failure of turn-out, failure to understand the way government works(whether it’s supposed to work that way or not), failure to be informed on the issues and the candidates, failure to pay attention to the down-ticket contests…a whole bunch of things that we should all be thinking about but don’t. AND a prevailing, parsimonious attitude that makes a virtue of trying to do everything on the cheap. There’s a powerful big difference between wishing to do things in the most cost-conscious and efficient manner possible to do the best we can for the most citizens and trying to see how much we can get away with before the dreadful consequences which we have been outrunning finally catch up. The difference is the difference between “What’s the best we can afford?” and “What’s the cheapest we can get?” Strangely enough, there are cases in which quality actually does count.

Puppy Tails

Growing a wee bit tired from all the pattering around town in the quest for yummy snacks, Doodle Dog was still having so much fun that he didn’t notice the sky around him was growing a wee bit darker. He knew he should get home soon and could hurry to make it back to the office before the stars...

Trying To Embrace The Dating Dot Coms Part 4 of a Series

How many times has it happened that I am notified that an attractive lady with a moniker such as NANNAN69 has just favorited me and would like to talk with me. The posted time is 7:15 PM. At 7:16 PM I respond and immediately a screen flashes that, “NANNAN69 is no longer available but here are 8 more people just like NANNAN69. Give them a response!” Now, tell me how, in 60 seconds, NANNAN got swept off her feet, married off and managed to get the Dot Com to take her out of contention when the rest of us can’t seem to even get the Dot Com to respond to us.

Take Up A New Hobby

So here’s the thing….  We need readers and scorekeepers for the Garfield QuizMasters to go out to vanquish our intellectual foes in upcoming Academic Challenge competitions.  Do I see any volunteers? Really, the hardest part is getting up EARLY on a Saturday morning to go ride a bus to the designated venue for the tournaments.  Of course, riding in a...

Trying To Embrace The Dating Dot Coms Part 3 of a Series

Why do people get hooked up with on-line dating services like EEK-Grominy and Lighter Dot Com. Well, if you believe all the hype shown you in the 90 second TV commercials it is because you want to find the right partner, that special someone, someone to marry.  Of course it is also possible that maybe you just want to...

Notes from The Vineyard

The holiday season is officially in front of us! I was amazed walking through the stores on November 1st to see very little Halloween and Thanksgiving items out to see instead most of the shelves already turned over for Christmas. So I guess it’s inevitable, time to prep for the holidays now! While we haven’t decorated for Christmas yet at...

An Estate Planning Checklist Things to check & double-check as you prepare

Estate planning is a task that people tend to put off, as any discussion of “the end” tends to be off-putting. However, those who die without their financial affairs in good order risk leaving their heirs some significant problems along with their legacies. No matter what your age, here are some things you may want to accomplish this year with...

If It Isn’t One Thing…

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. We’ve finally seen the end of the political ads (Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?—Robert Orben).  The signs should all be picked up until the next go-round and we can listen to the moans of the losers...

“I inherited a Chandler pastel painting. Could you give me more information on the artist?”

If you’d like to see a Chandler painting in person, the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown has “Scene in the Adirondacks” in its collection.

Trying To Embrace The Dating Dot Coms (Part 2 of a Series)

I got to know pretty much most of their customers by their pictures and crazily made up names like AnAn, Sexygurl, and Poosie Suzie which invariably were sent to me over and over and over again. I have trouble remembering names, except for one unfortunate, ill-chosen name –Msphyllis—(yes, I read and re-read that one several times to make sure that it wasn’t what I initially thought it was) but if I see a face once I remember it forever.

Welcome To The Lifeboat; Please Come Aboard

What do you do when, at 67 you find yourself single and alone again?  The reasons for this often include, your mate passed away, or perhaps you and/or your mate decided to end a 1-40 year relationship for whatever reasons.  At any rate you are now alone in the house, responsible for everything.  Assuming that bereavement is an ongoing...

It’s Your Right … Exercise IT!

I’ve been serving as a poll worker for about seven years now and it always makes me proud to see a former student come in to cast a ballot; wish that I’d see even more of them. It used to be a regular thing in the seventh grade to take my classes down to the Precinct A polls on High Street to observe the voting; the poll workers were always helpful and welcoming and happy to explain the procedures to the kids. Pity we can’t do stuff like that anymore.

Plate City

Once upon a time, specific clerks dealt with specific operations and the issuer of license plates might be snowed under with people waiting and waiting, while the driver’s license clerk was able to sit at her leisure to examine the new nail color that she had chosen and tempers tended to shorten as the wait time lengthened. Well, that’s done with…and none too soon.

Down A Very Scary Old Road…. The Class Reunion

“The reunion”, he says. “Oh yeah, you’ve gotta go”, says my friend Don, 80 years old and hasn’t missed a reunion yet. Class Reunion……These are words that strike terror into the heart of…… me. The word brings trepidation, apprehension, a dredging up of time spent in….limbo. It seems to hit me in the face with horrible thoughts about what is now and what is no more. This reunion to me is a thing out of time and very out of place. “But you’ve gotta go—it’s your 50 year Class Reunion”, they say. “You will never have another.”

Weekend Travels

Well, that train left the station without me aboard. I had been planning to take the Portage County Farm Tour but it turns out that it was held on Saturday instead of Sunday and my schedule was all wrapped around the Aurora Band show, Thunder Over Aurora, so it was a setback to open the Record on Sunday and see...

What can your wine tell you?

There are a few things, though, that you can learn about a white wine by looking at the color. First, when you are looking at the wine, make sure you have a white piece of paper or a white tablecloth as the background. Then tilt the glass at a 45 degree angle in front of the background. If a wine is golden or amber it may mean one of a number of things...

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

“Imagine looking professional but feeling like you’re wearing pajamas.”

Wild Hikes

Well, actually, it wasn’t all that wild but it definitely was interesting and fun.  The Portage County Park District is offering opportunities to scope out some of the features of the newly-funded (THANK YOU, VOTERS)county parks with knowledgeable  and  entertaining volunteer naturalists (or  one, at least, Thank you, Joe) to get a good look at just what’s out there. ...

“What makes potatoes start sprouting? Are they okay to eat?”

If you’ve left a bag of potatoes sitting around for a while, you might have noticed them starting to grow green, white, or somewhat purple sprouts. That’s the potato trying to grow into a new plant. The sprouts themselves, as well as any green part of the potato, are home to a toxic alkaloid called solanine and must be removed....

The 401(k) Amendment Period Is Here

The clock is ticking. Between now and April 30, 2016, 100% of 401(k) plans, profit sharing plans, and other tax-qualified plans that use an IRS-approved prototype plan document must be amended and restated.1 If this doesn’t occur by the above deadline, these retirement plans risk losing their tax-qualified status and the corresponding tax advantages they offer to plan participants. Any amendments to the current plan document must be incorporated into a fresh “core” document.1,2 Here’s your chance to refine your plan – to possibly lower its costs, to get more out of it. A little analysis from a consultant (and perhaps a little surveying of your plan participants) may allow you to answer some crucial questions.

The Golden End of Summer

Signs of fall abound, a chill is  in the air,  you can see and hear the familiar V formation of geese flying south, Monarchs flit among the flowers making their way to Mexico, and  the woods are becoming quiet as many songbird species leave for winter. The autumnal equinox announces fall is officially here on September 23, 2014. But...

Notes from the vineyard

How many of you will have to give a toast at the holiday party this year? Or maybe you have some other great party before the holidays you need to have a toast prepared. What do you do? What do you say? How do you give a toast? Well, thanks to stores for the reminder the first thing you need to do to give an excellent toast is to be prepared and give yourself ample time to write your toast. So, since the stores are preparing for the holidays, maybe now would be a good time to start thinking about that toast.


Well , it’s not just about football, ya know.  Or volleyball or baseball or cross country or golf or soccer or any of those sports where you get all sweaty.  Much more refined than THAT. Specifically, it’s the Sinquefield Cup Chess Tournament.  Held this last week in St. Louis, MO, the event saw a stunning  performance by Fabiano Caruana, a...

“What used to be built near the falls in Newton Falls? Was there a mill or anything like that?” 

We were able to find a lot of information in “Fragments of History of Newton Falls and Newton Township, Ohio,” compiled, edited, and annotated by Wendell F. Lauth and the Friends of the Newton Falls Public Library and “History of Newton Falls,” compiled by Ella A. Woodward. “Fragments of History” even included a picture of the falls, circa 1900, with the Hoyle Woolen Mill on one side and part of the Eagle Mills on the left.

Bad Spending Habits That Can Be Corrected

Perhaps many of us want to save but can’t due to financial pressures. Perhaps the economic rebound is encouraging personal consumption over saving. Whatever the reason, Americans on the whole don’t seem to be saving very much. That’s the status quo; going against it might help you build wealth a little more easily.

Fresh from the Garden

Since there were so many different flavors in both salsas that any heavy bodied (Cabernets, Sangioveses, Chardonnays) would overpower the salsa. So I started with a crisp Riesling and paired it with the salsa. It was so good that I set aside some extra salsa and added a splash of Riesling to it as a marinade. Anytime I have a spicy dish I make sure that I have a good bottle of Gewürztraminer on hand. The peppery finish from the Gewurztraminer really compliments the spicy peppers in the salsa.

Puppy Tails

With the freshly made doggie biscuits out of the oven and cooling on top of the counter, Doodle Dog could smell the delicious flavors wafting from the trays, off the tippy top of the table and all the way down to puppy-sniffing level. He could see the steam rising from the still-warm treats as it swished and swirled above...

“I have a pregnant stray cat hanging around my house. How long until she has her babies? When can I get her fixed?”

Sources vary on how old they need to be, anywhere from eight weeks to twelve, so it’s best to check with your veterinarian and see what they recommend.

When a Windfall Comes Your Way What do you do with big money?

A first-world problem, and nothing more? Not quite. Getting rich quick can be liberating, but it can also be frustrating. Sudden wealth can help you resolve anxieties about funding your retirement or your children’s college educations, and newfound financial freedom can lead to time freedom – greater opportunity to live and work on your terms. On the other hand, you’ll pay more taxes, attract more attention and maybe even contend with jealousy or envy from certain friends and relatives. You may deal with grief or stress, as a lump sum may be linked to a death, a divorce or a pension payout decision.

Time Out!

Well…seasons have started…football season, soccer season, volleyball season, cross country season, interscholastic golf season (The regular duffers have been going at it all summer), marching band season…you name it, the season has started. School is like the opening gun for all sorts of stuff. There are, however, plenty of competitions out there which we “wot not of”. Such as: Amazon has just agreed to pony up a ton of money--$970 million—for some outfit called Twitch which makes it possible for video gamers to watch—just watch, not play themselves—other video gamers play…what else?...video games! This is causing great commotion in the online world for some reason and many of the big names—whatever they are, in the online gamers world are all a-buzz about it. I am not one of these people. Let us get this straight; people can get on their computers to watch other people play video games. Just what IS it that these watchers DO? They don’t have to even move their fingers, just barely their eyeballs. Do the actual players get any feedback on their play? Are there electronic/digital cheerleaders chanting algorithmic encouragement from the in-the-cloud sidelines? Any rain delays when a server goes down? The questions have only just begun to roll in.

NOT One Of My Better Weeks

Not one of my better weeks; suffice it to say that I’m now looking for a new car and not a rehab facility.  That’s the good part.  Time to move on. The rollercoaster begins again : school is starting!  Whooeee!  Anyone got an office/coffee klatsch/bowling league/civic group/ neighborhood betting pool going on whether the newly -added-on-to Garfield Elementary School will...

The Economy Heads for Normal: A look at the fundamentals affirms the hunch

The stock market may be up and down this year, but America’s economic recovery seems to be proceeding at a decent pace. Anyone who wants some evidence of that can find it in some key fundamental indicators. Pessimists may counter: didn’t the economy grow just 0.1% in the first quarter? Indeed, that was the federal government’s initial estimate – but...

“I’m planning a trip. Is there a way to find out beforehand how much the tolls will cost?”

If you’re planning a trip in this last stretch of summer and you want to plan ahead and find out how much cash you’ll need to pay the tolls, you’re in luck... For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

St. Fiacre

So…I’m thinking that my gardening endeavors are in need of divine intervention—for the fungus or whatever it is that’s devastating the hollyhocks and the tomatoes, the slugs and/or whatever is feasting on the berry bushes, the infant poison ivy that seems to be popping up all over the place, the ”sweet violets”, AKA Chameleon plants that are sending out their smelly but vigorous roots everywhere but in the “dead zone” where I’d like them to move in—and I was reading a murder mystery involving a public garden with a statue of a holy fellow called St. Fiacre(Irish--Fiachra, Latin—Fiachrius) patron saint of gardeners (…and maybe cab drivers…who knew?). Why not give him a shot?

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