Friday, April 24, 2009

The Rhythm of the Presses Pounding in My Brain - - -

It's just over two weeks since a small fire drove the Loonfoot Falls Chronicle-Gazette staff into the street. For now, we're working on the press floor at Folden Press, where the Chronicle-Gazette gets printed.

Actually, we're just off the press floor, where they process large orders. Folden Press gets very busy, starting around Thanksgiving. We'd better be out of here by then.

Printing companies have a particular atmosphere. I'm not talking about feelings and associations. Between the inks, oils, and solvents, these places have a distinctive and noticeable bouquet.

While we were setting up here, Stan Parks was back at the old offices. He got permission to take the Vacnet servers out of the building: for which I am grateful. He also got the servers working again: about which I am impressed.

Stan strung together a network for us, here behind the press floor, with the Vacnet equipment sitting between two long tables: and a mess of cable and duct tape connecting it to a motley assembly of rented computers. Nobody's complained, very much, about the arrangement.

I think that's partly because Folden Press is such a successful company. Besides our paper, they do printing for several other weeklies in the area, plus advertising and a few catalogs.

That means that most of the time we've got the 'whooshathunkaTHUMPAklunka' of the printing presses permeating the air and our brains. I'm glad we have a place to work: but I'd have preferred one that didn't encourage the use of earplugs.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Sudden Sortie of Mr. Frizz

One of Loonfoot Falls' bright spots is the municipal flower garden, at the north end of Railroad Park.

And, since last year, it's had Loonfoot Falls' dog park for a neighbor. Between a dividing hedge and leash laws, nobody was expecting trouble.

They hadn't counted on Frances Robinson's Mr. Frizz: an Affenpinscher that looks, and acts, as if he'd backed into an electrical outlet.

Frances Robinson took Mr. Frizz to the dog park on Wednesday: a fine late spring afternoon. A city works crew was in the garden, setting out seedlings. It's a little early, but there's a mandate to get flowers blooming early.

The crew puts "cloches" over the plants: a fancy word for plastic milk jugs with the bottoms cut out. In case of a late frost.

At about 2:45, something caught Mr. Frizz's attention. He bolted for the hedge, pulling Frances off her feet and breaking her hold on the leash. Mr. Frizz, and his leash, shot through the hedge.

Eight pounds of Affenpinscher burst out the other side of the hedge, along with several ounces of leaves and twigs. The path of Mr. Frizz's sortie through the garden wasn't hard to miss: an arc of mangled plants ended in a small tangle of milk jugs, rakes, a small tractor, and Mr. Frizz: all attached by the Affen's leash.

Mr. Frizz is okay: aside from being a bit over-stimulated. The flowers, I'm told, will be replaced, and there's talk of putting an Affen-proof fence beside the hedge.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It Was Only a Small Fire - - -

The good news is that the Loonfoot Falls Chronicle-Gazette's press is not near the offices in downtown Loonfoor Falls, and that this week's paper was printed and distributed without incident. And, that nobody got hurt.

The bad news is that there was a small fire yesterday in this paper's offices. I was a bit distracted when the alarm went off, and didn't finish posting this week's column. Actually, I'm not even sure that it's been saved. The lights went out just before the alarms started. The network gave a one-minute shutdown warning, and crashed right after that.

Stan Parks tells me that our data should still be there. But he put a bit more emphasis on the word "should" than I like.

I've been told not to say much more about the fire, until the inspectors get through looking over the place. I wouldn't have much to say, anyway: I didn't notice anything before the lights went out, and after that I was concentrating on getting me, a camera, and a flash drive out of the building.

Before I forget it, kudos to the Loonfoot Falls fire department: they had the fire out, for the most part, quite quickly.

Me? I've got the weekend off. Mr. Johnson told us we'd be told before Monday morning, whether we're going back to the offices, or somewhere else.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Save the Ants!

Howard Leland, listening to All Things Considered last Wednesday, was appalled at what he heard. It was, in part, an account of how a respected scholar displayed blatant disregard for the safety of an ant.

Back in the fifties, I gather, a researcher named E. O. Wilson swabbed an innocent ant with oleic acid. That didn't hurt the ant directly. However, since oleic acid is what dead ants give off after a couple of days, other ants in the colony reacted to the very much living ant as though it were a little formican corpse.

For two hours, the swabbed ant endured the indignity, Mr. Leland explained to me, of being picked up, carried to the colony's 'graveyard' pile, and dumped there.

Howard Leland was never one to ignore a vital issue. In 2005, he was among the first in Loonfoot Falls to make his back yard a butterfly preserve. More recently, his stand against noise pollution led to a neighborhood discussion of noise: and a resolution to the leaf blower issue.

This week, Howard Leland has a new cause. He is determined to save the ants from uncaring researchers. He tells me that his letter to the Asclepias Society has not yet been answered.

"It's a long shot, anyway," Mr. Leland said, "the society's charter specifically limits its interests to monarch butterflies: but I felt I had to ask."

If you live in Loonfoot Falls, Howard Leland will probably ask you to join his cause. Just letting you know.
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