A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, Opinion, Uncategorized

Canada still off limits but…

The beach at Mentor Headlands with Lake Erie beyond.

Since the author of the blog was feeling better, I headed out to Mentor Headlands Beach again between rain showers. Compared to the last time I was there, it was like an October day with white-capped waves, winds blowing grains of sand, and parts of the beach becoming wading pools for seagulls to explore. Except for one windsurfer who wisely came back onshore, Lake Erie didn’t have a single boat or swimmer. Of course, Northern Ohio is one of the few places in America where another country is less than 50 miles away. Of course there’s a whole lot of freshwater in between but, in normal times, one can drive via I-90 and Buffalo to Niagara Falls, Ontario, in three hours; and there was once a time that many of us can recall being able to do this without a passport.

Today, I came across on NPR this piece on how, despite the closure of the US-Canadian border to non-essential traffic due to the pandemic, Americans still somehow manage to head north of the border, and the locals want us to go back home. Here is the text version of that piece.

It makes perfect sense to me that our neighbors to the north feel this way. After all they have 116,858 cases of which 8,945 died and 101,558 recovered. While more than one American (including myself) would like to escape the train wreck that this nation is heading towards with this pandemic (among other things) we have to abide by the rules and if the border is closed to day trippers, businessmen tired of meeting on Zoom, vacationers or subscribers to the Shaw Festival (most of whose shows are cancelled this year anyway) so be it. The fact that residents in British Columbia want people with their boats from just south of the border to go back home I find completely justified.

We’ve got to get our house in order first folks. After all, it’s even money that a year from now the situation here will get better so that the border will reopen anyway. By that time, hopefully for me, I will get that passport renewed.

Photograph by James Valentino.


Should we have another lockdown?

Today, I caught this opinion by Tina D. Bhargava (“We need to re-close Ohio’s economy. Our brains can’t handle re-opening) on Cleveland.com. It was rather interesting in the sense that she takes a clinical approach to why we should go back into the lock-down mode we had in March and April when this all hit. Glancing it over, I thought it was interesting, though the only bandwidth I know is the one for the internet. However, what she calls bandwidth is “the physiological limitation on how much “thinking” we can do.” That’s the small percentage of the brain that we consciously control, and thus reason with. She seems to argue that, with this various stages of reopening taking place after the spring lockdown, we tend to be more impulsive in our reactions and this affects how much we accept this new normal of ours or behave like all those who partied at Put-n-Bay recently (where there has been a subsequent spike in cases). As she writes; “Research shows that, with limited bandwidth, we are less likely to make well-reasoned, responsible decisions, and more likely to default to automatic or impulsive choices, regardless of consequences. Given this, basing the success of Ohio’s reopening plans on the expectation that people will make sensible choices in a pandemic is a recipe for disaster.” What we’ve seen lately down in Columbus doesn’t help in this matter.

Like many of us here in Cleveland, I wound up trying to catch Governor Mike DeWine’s special coronovirus update at 5:30 PM Wednesday. Just like many others, particularly reporters on Twitter, I felt it was much ado about nothing. While I am glad he isn’t going to sue any mayor like the governor of Georgia is right now the Mayor of Atlanta for insisting on the wearing of masks in public, it wasn’t news that needed an evening time slot. In fact, Friday, I came across a piece by Seth Richardson in Cleveland.com that can pretty much much sum up my mood over what it happening now. “Now, DeWine seems to be tiptoeing around the situation altogether. He said he was concerned about Ohio turning into the next epicenter such as Florida or Texas. But that warning came with zero action.” Mr. Richardson is right, Wednesday’s press conference was 30 minutes of my life that could have been used for something else.

Of course it’s politics but more complicated than it seems. That same day, the Governor did veto a bill that would have stripped the Ohio Department of Health, and it’s director, of enforcing health orders. After all, the governor has to face fellow Republicans in the state legislature who not only, for the most part, refuse to wear masks as a political statement (a la Trump) but passed this bill in the first place. Admittedly, DeWine is in a rather difficult position.

I am a registered Democrat, not at all a libertarian, support Joe Biden and never believed in what the Federalist Society keeps publishing and promoting, so I admit that am somewhat biased. However we have people who are willing to sacrifice people’s sense of safety and health because Trump is saying this will all go away and full speed ahead. We aren’t even dealing with the second wave that’s supposed to hit in the Fall yet. I don’t think a complete shut down in feasible now but a statewide mandatory mask order should at least be issued. We should also back off a bit on the indoor dining, bars, and I hate say it Cedar Point until we reign this pandemic in. If Congress ever gets to pass the latest HEROS Act, some of the money could go to real contact tracing and on the job testing for essential workers (like health and government employees). Of course, these are just my own thoughts.

I hope that Ms. Bhargava is wrong but with daily cases now exceeding what we had in April, it’s even money that by the end of the year we might wind up doing that again.


Turning Purple.

A desolate patio at the East 55th St. Marina.

It was at the job that pays the bills yesterday that my colleagues were all a buzz about how Cuyahoga County might soon reach a level 4 in the Governor’s criteria for those parts of the state where the virus hit the most. Masks are now mandatory in this county since it’s a level 3 and all the benefits achieved from the lock down in March and April have been in effect wiped out. Ironically, compared to what has been unleashed in places like Arizona and Texas Ohio is almost a success story.

The view from the dock.

I went to the East 55th St. Marina this evening just to be on the water. While the parking lot was full, what surprised me was that the gift shop and eatery there were closed. The last time I was there it was open and more than half the tables filled by patrons. I wonder if the Cleveland Metroparks which operates the facility know something we don’t for next week. If Cuyahoga County reaches level 4, and turns purple, then another lock down is suggested with people going out only for essentials.

Looking West.

The lack of leadership on the national level is downright criminal and a piece that Max Boot writes in the Washington Post pretty much sums up exactly what I think about the man who keeps wishing this thing would just go away.

Photographs by James Valentino.


Friday Night Musings.

In a blink of an eye another week has ended. A cold front is coming through NE Ohio tonight and we won’t see anymore 90 plus temperatures for at least for the next four days. One good thing about the heat wave is that Lake Erie water levels are now lower than they were a year ago and one can assume that places like Put-n-Bay and Presque Isle no longer have sidewalks or roadway under water as a result.

One thing that sticks in my brain from the random news of the week was the Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday that the Eastern part of Oklahoma, including part of Tulsa, still lies within areas given to The Creek, Choctow, Cherokee and other tribes at the time Oklahoma became a state in 1907. This is significant because, as any history book would tell you, these were the same tribes that were were forcibly removed in the 1830s from the Southern United States by Andrew Jackson (made famous, or infamous, by the “Trail of Tears”). While this ruling (McGirt vs. Oklahoma) was deciding basically a criminal matter, and which courts can hear a case (state or tribal for example), the New York Times piece also mentioned that “Lawyers were also examining whether it had broader implications for taxing, zoning and other government functions (Landmark Supreme Court Ruling Affirms Native American Rights in Oklahoma). “

This 5-4 decision in favor of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation is long in coming and, I personally believe it’s about time. After all, the Native Americans were here first and the way they have been treated is nothing to brag about. I must also add that the fact that Neil Gorsich wrote the decsion in favor of this was an eye opener too. Along with the other rulings yesterday that I won’t go into, it’s nice to see that the Judicial Branch is still playing the role that Chief Justice John Marshall thought it should.


A quick pandemic little post.

The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake parking lot.

Again, the news come faster than my time at my blog. I was going to share on here a link to a cleveland.com article from this weekend about Mayor Jackson requiring residents to wear masks out in public. Now, I saw Tuesday that Governor DeWine has issued an order for any county in the the red category (not just Cuyahoga but also Franklin, Trumbull, and a few others) to have their residents do the same. I can see why it has to be done since a large number of people have been going around without them when it was considered just recommended. For example, while walking at the Geneva State Park this Monday, nobody wore a mask as far as I saw (and I only put my mask back on when people were getting way too close). In fact, from the way the parking lot of the Lodge looked, one would think it was a year ago and all was well. It’s a good thing then that DeWine extended the order banning mass gatherings and health rules for businesses.

View of the beach at Geneva State Park and Lake Erie.

Photographs by James Valentino.


The Fourth of July started early this year…

A water lily in bloom at the beaver Marsh.

The firecrackers began two weeks ago it seems. Also, with the 4th being on a Saturday, it was decided by many to make Friday the 3rd the official day off for those still working, if they actually get the fourth off.

This Thursday, as I drove up from the National Park, I caught some of Governor De Wine’s daily press conference regarding the corona virus. I already saw the Harvard Study about the number of cases we have on a county by county basis, and he did too. Right now, the State of Ohio is being color coded by county to a corresponding level of this pandemic. Cuyahoga has the dubious honor of being one of seven counties in the alert level 3 (Red) category; there is so much community spread ti’s advised to really behave like we did during the lock down. Of course, as I head from an infectious disease expert on at show on MSNBC that same evening; unless we have a nationally coordinated strategy to deal with this pandemic, we will never get a handle on this.

To top it off, the first real sustained heat wave is hitting Cleveland right now. Only tomorrow is going to be in the 80’s, the rest 90s F. We will see how well people socially distance at the beaches this weekend. However, if it’s anything like the hiking trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, they should be relatively safe. After all, just keep your distance and bring a mask with you just in case. This reminds me of an article by Marlene Cimmons in the Washington Post today where she asks Dr. Fauci and five other health specialists how they deal with this virus in their everyday living. After reading this, I don’t feel so stupid sitting in the back seat of a friend’s car with all the windows down as I went on a joy ride a few weeks ago.

Hopefully, next year’s Fourth will be a lot better for all of us.

Looking north on the towpath trail.

Photographs by James Valentino.

A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Happy Father’s Day from Mad Man On A Great Lake.

What a busy week for me, and what another eventful week it was for this country. What has been gong on in Cleveland and this country has been so overwhelming the senses that I just focused writing on my short story and the job. On a personal note, I cannot wait for November though, if it all works out as I hope, we still have until January for so much more damage to be done.

Well, at least many of us made it halfway through the year healthy and virus free. The longer we try to minimize our exposure to it, the more time there is for treatments to come on line as the recent news from the UK. shows. For those of us who forgot their mask yesterday while hiking in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, this is good news.

To all of you with children or Fathers still alive, Happy Father’s Day. Let’s hope next year will be a lot more sociable.

A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, My blog., Uncategorized

Another look at Holden.

The Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden.

Every year around this time is when rhododendrons are at their peak of bloom in Northeast Ohio. With places like the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and its partner the Holden Arboretum out in Lake County, closed during the stay at home order the only thing a member could do is drive past either of them. Well, early last month, Holden Forest and Gardens began phasing in the reopening of their arboretum, first to members, now to the public as well. Right now, admittance is by preordering a ticket to get in ($0 for members) and you select a time slot to enter the place. So, a couple Saturdays ago, I did just that and saw the grounds for the first time this year.

A view of the plantings.
White azaleas in a recent addition to the garden.

The David Leech Rhododendron research station most likely will remain closed for this year, but at least on June 10th, they will re-open the gardens of the Cleveland Botanical Gardens at University Circle. It all depends how much of an uptake in the number of coronavirus cases there will be this month (or not) for them to apparently open up the building and the Glasshouses.

Red and pink rhododendron bushes in bloom.
One of the deciduous azaleas.
Lilacs were still blooming there as well.

With exception of Tuesday and Wednesday this week, the weather has been very nice here on the North Coast for outdoor activities such as this. While walking the trails, one can forget the chaos that is all around us.

A quiet pond at the arboretum.

Photographs by James Valentino.

A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, My blog., Opinion

Thoughts about this week.

Every time I start to work on a possible post for the blog, the news seems to make my topic obsolete. After all, what is the point of writing about the merits of the Ohio Land Bank Conference going completely online this year when people are throwing cinder blocks into the Justice Center windows in downtown Cleveland.

I woke up this morning to see on my Google News Feed that the Shoreway Westbound has been closed from roughly the I-271 split and the Lake County border to downtown which would mean I would have to take the long drive, possibly,’ on Lakeshore Boulevard to get to University Circle if I wanted to go down there (so far, no protests or riots have taken place there).

As I talked to a couple people yesterday on the phone about the terrible events of this week. With one, who happens work at the State Capitol in Columbus, talked about how the windows on the first floor are now boarded up since they have all be broken. Statues on the grounds have been defaced and fixtures might have trouble being replaced. I also was surprised when he told me how Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce and other elected officials were pepper sprayed at a protest and just exercising their First Amendment Rights. I found an article from the Columbus Dispatch that explains it more. We both agreed that what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis was wrong and people have the right to peacefully protest. That man didn’t have to die like he did, but why torch cars and smash up bus stops?

While we talked, I couldn’t stop thinking about President Trump”s Inauguration Speech more than three years ago; how we will make this country strong, proud, safe and above all great again. Well, looking around me I see that none of this has taken place.

Last week, a relative of mine stopped over my house on one of my stand by days from the job. When he told me that he was starting to think that the President was, and this is a direct quote, “an idiot” my response was “and you are only discovering this right now?” but inside I was stunned. He added that the President was good at the beginning and I believe he still wants to cling to that thought which is understandable.

Just like I talk to my self that, with every month I don’t contract the virus, there is a month’s more time for people discovering better treatments or lower death rates, I tell my self with each month we get closer to November and even if it means risking our health to wait in line at a polling booth if we cannot obtain vote by mail ballot, there will be enough people I believe who will vote this man out of office and we can at least start cleaning up the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

All things pass.

A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Happy Mother’s Day from Mad Man on a Great Lake.

This holiday must be quite different for many people compared to last year. Having lost my own mother to cancer in 2001, I can only imagine how it is for many who want to follow the measures necessary to keep our loved ones safe. After all, phone calls or being on Skype are not the same thing as getting together as a family or out to a restaurant. Of course, many places to have a menu to go for the day. I myself went out to a place yesterday and got one of my Mother’s favorites, a filet mignon, and was happy to hear from the owner that they were doing okay (100 orders yesterday for example) and he plans to see if he can open up later in the month (which I still say is rather premature but everyone’s doing it).

However, all this will pass and, hopefully, all of us will be able to get though this pandemic pretty much unscathed so that next year we can go back to doing the things today that we love to do. On that note, Happy Mother’s Day from Mad Man on a Great Lake.