Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Back on the map: Canton, Ohio

Canton’s finally banished the Spectre of Colesville:

(Mostly) fixed. Click to embiggen.

Yeah, it still says Colesville over there on the left, but hey, the mapping is back in order.

October 30, 2009 Posted by | geek, Ohio, Travel, Web/Tech | , , , , | 2 Comments

Canton v. Colesville: Anagram Challenge

Six days in,  Google Maps v. Reality: The Battle of Canton-Colesville rages on. The day after a few Northeast Ohio media outlets ran with it, the Associated Press picked up and abbreviated the Repository’s piece.

I propose the city’s name be decided through a contest of relative anagram coolness.

In one corner, Canton, Ohio, which, among other permutations, offers us “Hi-Noon Taco.” (To me, “Hi” in this case not being the greeting, but a faux-catchy usage like “krazy” or “nite” or “thru.”)

The challenger: Colesville, Ohio, which can be remixed into “Loose Chili Love.”

Tough call.

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, geek, Ohio, Travel, Web/Tech | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Adieu, Demon Drop.

I can remember this commercial – and the very idea of a freefall ride – giving me stomachwillies when I was 12:

And now it’s going away.

This is one of those great rides where the real terror was in the anticipation: You’d wait in line at its base, winding back and forth while over and over and over, this 13-story steel thing just chugged and roared and people screamed. You’d get fastened into your seat and then wait a few agonizing minutes while each car shifted backward every minute or so, inching you closer to the tower itself. You’d finally scoot back into position, and then your gut would just go to water when the all-too-quick climb began.

At the top, a pause. A settling. A shift forward into emptiness – and then, just like everyone said, you counted in your head: One, two. three –

And then you fell.

At least once, you had to try the penny-on-the-knee trick, watching it seem to rise and then hover in place during descent.

I associate it with being a kid and turning old enough to go around the park with a friend, parent-free, and with high school visits, and, of course, with the summer before college.

Demon Drop was right near the entrance to Cedar Point, so it often earned last-ride-of-the-night status, and the trip over a bright midway and a dark surrounding lake, accompanied by summer wind, is something I can remember as easily as the smell of leaves in the fall.

October 28, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Current Affairs, eighties, geek, Ohio, Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

U2 3D at the Rock Hall

Kelsey and I got to go to a preview screening of U2 3D at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and I blogged about it for my friends at Positively Cleveland. (The movie’s free with admission to the Rock Hall, so we’re already planning to go back so Jenn can see it, too.)


October 27, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, Film, Music, Ohio, Travel, Weblogs | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canton, Colesville and Google Maps

Updated: Here’s a (Canton) Repository story on it, with not an ‘alleged Canton historian’ in sight.

The news about Canton becoming Colesville is spreading: Fox 8 (WJW) up in Cleveland has a short story about it this afternoon.

It’s kind of a poorly-sourced piece, leaning on one “anonymous Canton resident” for some opinion (note: there’s now an accompanying video with a few more opinions – wow, they actually sent a crew out for this?) and serving up this less-than-authoritative gem:

Finally, some alleged Canton Historians believe it’s correct.

Eddy McLoud, who has no evidence to support his theory, says “That (Colesville) is the township that was here way before they came up with the city name Canton, Ohio.

Still, I remain amused. And so, seemingly, does whoever edited the city’s Wikipedia entry to include: Due to a change in Google Maps, Canton’s name has been changed to Colesville. (Yeah, the change didn’t stick long. Still funny.)

October 26, 2009 Posted by | geek, Ohio, Web/Tech, Weblogs | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

GeekDad: “Gearing Up”

One of the coolest, most fun things I ever got to do as a reporter was cover the 2002 FIRST Robotics Competition.

I was the education writer at the Tribune-Chronicle in Warren, Ohio, and I spent a lot of time that spring hanging out with the kids and teachers and mentors of Harding High’s Delphi E.L.I.T.E. team. The enthusiasm they all had for this project and the competition was ridiculously infectious.

My daughter and I went with them to the Buckeye Regional in Cleveland that year -Kelsey was barely five years old, but she totally dug walking around the pit areas and seeing the robot guts and watching them in action – and later in the season, the paper’s editor asked if I’d be interested in traveling to cover the team at that year’s National Championship in Orlando.

Um…trick question?

Jim freelanced the Trib’s photo coverage, and we had a blast over the three-day event. It’s always been hard for me to capture the energy and commitment these teams and their supporters put into it, but as I mentioned over at GeekDad, there’s a documentary out on DVD now that follows four teams on their road to the Nationals, and I just may have to check it out.

October 23, 2009 Posted by | Film, Games, geek, Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Google Maps: Dude, Where’s My Canton?

About 10 o’clock this morning, Jenn asked me to grab her a set of directions to someplace in downtown Canton. (Canton, OHIO, just to be clear.)

Clickety-click, typety-type, and Google Maps is being its usual helpful self.

Except that downtown Canton seems to be something other than, well, Canton:

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

“Colesville?” Huh. That’s weird. Maybe it’s like one of those outdated neighborhood names or something that just happens to be right where the pinpoint falls on the map, and the “Canton” label will show up as I zoom out.

Nope, still Colesville.

Nope, still "Colesville."

Odd. Let’s pull back more…

Okay, this is getting silly.

Okay, this is getting silly.

Okay, so now I’m really intrigued and wondering where this glitch came from and what the deal is, so I start fiddling about.

I do a Google Maps search for Canton Ohio and get this:

Um... no.

Um... no.

That’s actually Massillon. (And given the century-plus rivalry between the two cities, I think the juxtaposition is pretty damn funny.)

And Colesville’s not something attached to that particular ZIP code, either: Google Maps ZIP code searches for all the Canton-area codes turn up maps with the same Colesville label.

More weirdness: Search for Colesville, with no state name, and Google Maps treats you to Colesville, Ohio at the top of the list, with four other out-of-state possibilities.

I turn to MapQuest. Whew:

Hey, there it is!

Hey, there it is!

Next, I do a MapQuest search for Colesville, OH, 44701. I get this:

Click to enlarge if you want.

Click to enlarge if you want.

Hm. Maybe there IS something to this “Colesville” thing. Of course, I did tell MapQuest to look for Colesville at that ZIP code. I wonder if that generated the label. Let’s try something…

Clickety-click, typety-type:

Weve got the droids youre looking for.

We've got the droids you're looking for.

Huh. “Robot Parade, OH” it is, then. Great.

So, “44701” on MapQuest generates a peachy-keen normal Canton-labeled map, and, in fact, looking on that site for Colesville, Ohio, gets you nothing:

Will the REAL Colesville, Ohio please stand up?

Will the REAL Colesville, Ohio please stand up?

Now, I’ve heard about the fake streets that can be used to red-flag copyright violators, but seriously, this isn’t a cul-de-sac somewhere between wheat fields – it’s a Whole Freaking City.

Or if there is some kind of bizarre historic significance or a link between the seemingly-nonexistent Colesville, Ohio – though it’s mentioned in the 1875 book “The Birds and Seasons of New England” and in a 1855 newspaper article -and Canton, I’d love to hear it.

So, seriously, Google Maps? Where’d Canton go? Jenn’s supposed to be picking up lunch on her way home and I’d hate to think she’s lost in Colesville.

October 23, 2009 Posted by | geek, Ohio, photos, Travel, Web/Tech | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Cats’ Treasure Trove

We replaced our stove recently.

Having four cats, I was prepared to uncover some dust bunnies and a few of Jenn & Kelsey’s ponytail bands, which are apparently the Best Cat Toys Evar. I was not ready for this:

I love that you can pretty well gauge our cats’ average paw reach by the ring cluster and the dust-free area in front of it.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | photos | , , | 1 Comment

Memories: No Assembly Required

Flashbacks, courtesy of awhile spent exploring the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum last Saturday during JediCon WV:

When I was five years old and we lived in the house my parents bought when we first moved to Canton, there was a kid named Danny who lived in the yellow-bricked house next door. He was a year or two older than me and had a Big Wheel which looked pretty much exactly like the one up there on the shelf. Though I don’t remember this, my mom recalls that Danny charged me to ride it.

I apparently paid in the only currency I had: Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars.

Before Danny could totally clean out my tire-shaped Mattel Hot Wheels carrying case, though, mom and dad got me a Big Wheel of my own.

Mine looked different, though – it was red, not orange, and had a plastic brake lever instead of a metal one with a plastic handle. The back wheels were wider, too, and the front wheel – the BIG one – was black and yellow instead of black and silver.

It takes very little effort, even now, to remember what it felt like riding it; the smooth, molded plastic handgrips against my palms; the way the texture of a road or sidewalk transmitted itself through the seat and the wheel and the handlebars while I pedaled; the thrill of pulling up hard on the brake and turning at the same time to do a spin-out.

When it was brand-new, we went to visit my grandma, across the state in Upper Sandusky, and I was allowed to bring it along. There was a parade or something downtown, and I was riding on the sidewalk when my family ran into someone they knew – and their two sons had Big Wheels, too! These guys were pretending that fire shot from their back wheels, which I thought was fun and cool, and when I said, “Yeah, mine too!” one of them looked at my  newer, red-not-orange, fat-rear-tired ride with disdain, and said something to the effect of “Not from yours: Your wheels are weird.” And then they rode off. (Seriously – what a dick, right?)

When I was six, we moved to a new neighborhood, a dead-end street surrounded by trees and fields out in what my parents called “the boondocks.” My new neighbor, Rick, had a Big Wheel of his own, and even though we both knew how to ride bikes, these were the years when we really put our Big Wheels through their paces: plywood-and-cinderblock ramps; demolition derbies; endless races around a tight oval in our driveway.

Eventually, we were too big to squeeze into the Big Wheels sitting down. No problem: We took off the seats and drove them by standing on the back and pushing with one foot, and man, could you get those things flying. Soooo much faster than pedaling, and easier to jump away from when the inevitable flip or collision came your way.

Our Big Wheels mirrored each other in their decay. Busted brake handles; splits in the bases that caused the point just forward of the seat to scrape the ground; and the bane of practically every Big Wheel I ever saw, the one spot on the front tire that wore itself flat and made for an increasingly prominent “thump” with every rotation.

The last time I remember playing with my Big Wheel, Rick and I had tied it to the back of my bicycle with about twenty feet of rope. It was hard as hell for the person doing the pulling to get started, but once the bike was moving down the street, it took just a few slight flicks of the handlebars to send the Big Wheel rider on a massive crack-the-whip sweep, winging back and forth until the trip ended in a cloud of dust and gravel and someone rolling down the road howling in glee.

That’s what I saw sitting up there on the shelf in an old building in Wheeling, West Virginia.

October 16, 2009 Posted by | geek, Ohio, writing | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Road Trip: JediCon WV

I was glad that JediCon WV was on my calendar Saturday, not just for the whole spend-a-day-with-other-Star-Wars-fans thing, but also because I figured it would prevent me from basically pacing around the house and worrying about running my first marathon the next day.

Up at six o’clock, then, intent on leaving by seven for the two-hour drive to Wheeling, West Virginia.

JediCon, though it was a small event, was a milestone for me: It was the first show to which I’d been invited as a guest by the organizers, who got in touch with me shortly after I relaunched “Collect All 21” back in April. And just a few weeks back, they asked if I’d like to do a presentation/reading from the book – another first for me.

I’m a huge fan of road trips: I love checking out different routes and figuring out how to see places I’ve never been without going too far out of my way. I love stocking the car with maps and music and audiobooks. I love that feeling of pulling out of the driveway before sunup knowing that daylight will illuminate things I’ve never seen.

This was also the first Saturday in 18 weeks that I wouldn’t be running.

For the drive to Wheeling, I’d chosen a route mostly clear of the main freeways: U.S. Route 250, running forty miles shorter than the trip by interstates 77 and 70, but comparable in terms of estimated travel time. I had, in fact traveled a small part of this road before: An Arby’s at a rural intersection struck me as familiar, and I remembered it was where Jenn and I had stopped for lunch a few years ago after dropping Kelsey off for a week at the YMCA’s Camp Tippecanoe. It was her first time away from home not being spent with family, and it was the same camp where I’d spent a few weeks over a couple summers when I was a kid. It was a quiet lunch that day, and a little sad.

Beyond that, I was mostly on a two-lane road I’d never driven, and it was a beautiful morning for the trip, with a low, gray sky, hills all around, and the woods nearing their seasonal-change color peak. To keep myself in a nostalgic mood fitting for my reading and a day around Star Wars, I listened to Wil Wheaton’s “The Happiest Days of Our Lives.”

I reached the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum just after 9 a.m., and saw a couple guys unloading a life-sized Darth Vader statue built from Legos. The convention was in the museum’s basement, in a room much smaller than I’d expected. A few of the vendors and fan organizations were no-shows, and one of the other guests – a guy who’d worked on the original Star Wars and was supposed to bring pieces of the original Death Star to display – had canceled the day before.

Still, I was here, as was Kim Simmons, a photographer who had worked for Kenner and shot many of the original packaging photos and action-figure setups, and spending a day with fellow Star Wars fans has, to me, never failed to be fun.

Kim sat down at my table, recognizing me and my book from the OSWCC Summer Social in 2008, right after I’d launched the first edition, and we wound up talking for a half-hour or so. A super-nice guy, he was going to buy a copy, but instead we settled on a trade for a signed print of the old Dewback box scene he’d created.

He also said he’d let me use his laptop and projector for my reading, since I’d brought along a slideshow of childhood pictures to accompany some of my memories. My reading started a little later than the 11 a.m. scheduled time, due to a slight technical glitch with the projector, but when it started, there were probably about a dozen people in the room, and a handful of others arrived after I’d begun. I had fun, and it seemed like I got laughs at the right moments, and I think I saw smiles of recognized shared nostalgia while I read and clicked through the slides.

Over the eight hours I was there, even though this was easily the smallest convention I’ve ever attended, I sold more copies of “Collect All 21!” than I ever have before, probably because it was aimed directly at Star Wars fans, and I had something in common with every visitor who walked in.

Other stuff:

In the silent auction for charity, I wound up the high bidder for a sweet DVD packed with a hundred and ten 1970s and 80s Kenner Star Wars commercials. (Wampaaa! Wampaaaaaaaa!)

Spent some time talking Legos with a very friendly builder from the Toy and Plastic Brick Museum (practically right across the river in Bellaire, Ohio, and if I’d had more time, I’d have tried to work a stop there into the trip, because she made it sound awfully neat).

I left for home just before 5 p.m., my boxes of books a bit lighter, my spirits high, my nerves about the race still at bay, and the sun just starting to turn the hills to fire and rust.

October 14, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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