Monday, November 30, 2009

EDC reconsidered

Not long after starting my new "regular job," it became clear to me that I'd have to adjust my everyday-carry arsenal. To wit:

Victorinox One-Hand Trekker
iTP C7T LED flashlight
Gerber Ultralight LST
Palm Centro
Nite Ize Clip Case Cargo

My keys now get parked on my desk as soon as I arrive at the shop. The OHT lives in a pants pocket, while the other items ride on my belt in the Nite Ize holster. I'm quite sure that I'll make more adjustments as time goes by.

More about my choices -- and the range of everyday tasks that prompted them -- next month.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Impressions: Little kit

Call 'em stocking stuffers, if you like -- 'tis the season, after all -- but recently I acquired three blog-worthy pieces of kit in small packages. Each fills a particular preparedness need (or two). Each is made in relatively limited quantities, right here in the USA, and is guaranteed for life.

#1: Bark River Knives Bravo Necker. I first
posted about this knife after its launch late last month, but it wasn't until yesterday morning that my very own Bravo Necker arrived in the mail.

I was right -- it's a winner.

The Bravo Necker, as a system, flat works. The standard-issue Kydex sheath is so good that I'm not pining for high-zoot leather pants, and the handle slabs (I opted for black-and-green Micarta) are a perfect fit. I like the firesteel sleeve molded into the Kydex, too.

Bark River leaves it to the user to supply a tether for neck carry, so I picked up a three-foot ball chain ($1.69) in the ceiling-fan aisle of our local hardware store. I may switch to a paracord lanyard later, but for now the chain serves me just fine.

I have only two complaints, both related to the four Allen-head machine screws (a hex key is supplied) and two threaded collars that secure the handle slabs to the skeletonized tang. First, the screws should've been slot-heads or even Phillips -- that hex key is just one more thing to carry (and misplace).

Also, it's safe to predict that sooner or later the tiny hardware bits will escape when trying to access the capsule-sized hidden compartment, especially with cold or gloved hands. I plan to reduce the number of pieces from six to four with SuperGlue or LocTite, semi-permanently fixing two of the screws to the threaded collars.

But those are nits -- this is a great concept and a great knife. In fact, I think I want a second Bravo Necker, sans handles, so that I can try a paracord wrap on the tang. That'll also give me another sheath, which I expect to equip with a paracord harness that'd put the rig under my weak-side arm.

#2: K & M Match Case. The waterproof match case arguably is as common as the pocketknife, and over the years I must've owned a dozen or more. None of those steel or plastic cases, however, compares to the ones made in an Idaho garage by Keith and Marge Lunders.

The press-fit stopper of the K & M case seals with a pair of rubber o-rings and is held fast with a twist of the double-cord lanyard. The interior surface of the stopper is machined to be a striking surface for Ohio Blue Tip or Diamond strike-anywhere matches.

Set into the outside of the stopper is a liquid-damped Suunto compass -- a useful pathfinder, by no means an el cheapo button compass. K & M supplies a slip-on cap to protect the face.

Each K & M Match Case is precision-machined from solid bar stock, either aluminum or brass. The standard-length case measures 3.875 inches long overall; for oversize matches, a longer version (4.25 inches) is available.

The craftsmanship on my standard-length, red-anodized aluminum case is just exquisite. K & M has created a work of utilitarian art that's earned a permanent place among my kit.

#3: Tru-Nord Compass. If I called this compass a jewel or a gem, I wouldn't be speaking figuratively -- the Tru-Nord is a piece of jewelry which could (if you know how to use it) save your life.

The Tru-Nord is manufactured, assembled and packaged in Brainerd, Minnesota, just as it's been for over 60 years. Its case is lathe-turned from solid brass rod. The dry compass movement floats on a polished, tapered pinnacle and is covered by a Lexan lens. Simplicity and precision combine to make the Tru-Nord truly waterproof and shock-resistant.

Now here's what's really cool: each Tru-Nord Compass is compensated for a specific region of the country -- that is, it provides a correct "Grid North." Mine happens to be set for central Ohio, but if I were to move to, say, New Mexico, I could return it (with $3 to cover postage) and Tru-Nord would re-compensate it for the Southwest.

When I eventually do make my longed-for trip back to Kintla Lake I could, of course, order another Tru-Nord compensated for northwest Montana -- and I will.

It's hard to describe how solid and capable the Tru-Nord is. Consider it highly recommended.

* * *

It's hard not to love simple things done extraordinarily well. Come Christmas Eve, each member of the KintlaLake family will find one of these essentials in their stocking.

Who's getting what? I'm not telling -- Santa doesn't give up his secrets.

Earlier post
Sharps: Neck-and-neck

Bark River Bravo Necker
K & M Industries

Thursday, November 26, 2009

We interrupt this commercial...

I remember loving the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade when I was a kid. Watching it now, I see it for what it's become (or maybe what it's always been) -- a three-hour commercial, interrupted only occasionally by something I want to see.

Mrs. KintlaLake and I sat through the annual affair anyway this morning, sipping our coffee while awaiting two particular entries.

Our patience was rewarded when my wife's hometown high school's marching band strode up to the reviewing stand during the first half of the parade. An alumna of the then-cross-town band, she judged the group worthy of its selection. (Natch.)

The last of the eleven bands in this year's Macy's parade hails from right here in our community. Their ranks were tight, their music crisp and their performance, according to us, spectacular.

It feels a wee bit silly that a bunch of teenagers gave us chills today, but that's the truth. From the banks of Decker's Creek to our own village, it's a pride thing -- it's about home.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Honest labor, musical perspective

A little over two weeks into my new "regular job," I now have a sense of whether or not it works for my family and me.

It does.

The work itself is mean but satisfying. For this long-time desk jockey, there's a certain appeal to digging through 40 years of road grime, hoping to uncover rare parts sought by those bent on keeping their machines running or restoring them to original condition.

What's more, because my mechanical education to this point has been of the shade-tree variety, I'm learning -- big-time. My head is overflowing with the kind of practical information I've been craving for years.

So it's a good thing. I'm walking my talk -- but that's not what's on my mind right now.

This evening we ventured out to see our friend John Schwab, who was playing solo at a restaurant a mile or so from where we're living. Toward the end of his first set he covered a Billy Currington song written by Bobby Braddock and Troy Jones. I'll close this post simply with the lyrics.

This old man and me, were at the bar and we
Were having us some beers and swapping I-don't-cares,
Talking politics, blonde and red-head chicks,
Old dogs and new tricks and habits we ain't kicked.

We talked about God's grace and all the hell we raised.
Then I heard the ol' man say,
"God is great, beer is good and people are crazy."

He said, "I fought two wars, been married and divorced."
What brings you to Ohio?
He said, "Damned if I know."
We talked an hour or two about every girl we knew,
What all we put them through
(Like two old boys will do).

We pondered life and death. He lights a cigarette.
He said, "These damn things will kill me yet;
But God is great, beer is good and people are crazy."

Last call, it's 2am. I said goodbye to him.
I never talked to him again.
Then one sunny day I saw the old man's face,
Front-page obituary -- he was a millionaire.
He left his fortune to some guy he barely knew.
His kids were mad as hell.
But me, I'm doing well.

And I dropped by today, to just say thanks and pray.
I left a six-pack right there on his grave and I said,
"God is great, beer is good and people are crazy."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

'The Game' 2009: Two bits

"How much does a man got to get humbled? Got humbled last year. Been humbled before and will be humbled again. In this profession, there's enough humility to go around for everybody. I'm getting tired of being humbled." (Rich Rodriguez, head football coach for the University of Michigan, after his team lost 21-10 to Ohio State yesterday, demonstrating both his command of the English language and his irrepressible narcissism)

Because OSU players wore 1954-era uniforms yesterday afternoon, their helmets didn't sport the familiar Buckeye Leaves awarded since 1968 for outstanding individual and team play.

Each throwback helmet did, however, display this sticker honoring Stefanie Spielman, wife of Buckeyes' great Chris Spielman. Stefanie died Thursday evening after a long and valiant [sic] battle with breast cancer.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Today's 21-10 victory brought back sweet memories. It made a few new ones, too.

Throwback uniforms, a tribute to the Ohio State team that won the 1954 National Championship.

Throwback dominance. The last time either team won six straight meetings, the Great Depression hadn't yet begun (Michigan, '22-'27).

Throwback defense, reminiscent of so many tough-as-nails Buckeyes squads. This group forced five turnovers.

Throwback offense. Woody (and probably Bo) would've cheered OSU's dedication to running the ball down Michigan's throat.

Throwback fans, who seemed to bring as much Scarlet and Gray to The Big House as there was Maize and Blue. (ABC's aerial shots bore out that impression.)

Throwback freshman, in the person of Wolverines QB Tate Forcier. Whenever his offense threatened to make The Game a game, especially in the fourth quarter, the 19-year-old would -- you guessed it -- throw it back to the Buckeyes.

Throwback photo. Check out the Dispatch image of Devon Torrence's fourth-quarter pick (right). Norman Rockwell would've liked that, I think.

Throwback futility. The University of Michigan hasn't recorded back-to-back losing football seasons since '62-'63, and no previous Wolverines coach has dropped his first two games to Ohio State.

Throwback to what matters. When current OSU offensive lineman Justin Boren transferred from Michigan, he cited incoming head coach Rich Rodriguez's lack of "family values." That's not quite fair, really, since for the second consecutive year Rodriguez has made sure that his players will be home for the holidays.

And finally, speaking of F-Rod (as he's known in the KintlaLake household), throw back your coach, Wolverines -- obviously, he has some growing-up to do before he's ready for The Game.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The anti-poseurs

When I was in my teens, I came to know Stefanie Belcher as the kid sister of a couple of girls who ran with my circle of friends. A few years later, everyone would know her boyfriend -- Chris Spielman, football star for Massillon Washington High School, Ohio State and three NFL teams.

The high-school sweethearts would marry, and had our introduction to them ended there it would've been a great love story. But at age 30, Stefanie was diagnosed with breast cancer, and a simple fairy tale became an inspiration to millions.

Chris put his All-Pro career on hold so that he could be with his wife while she fought the disease -- it remains one of the manliest (for lack of a better word) and most selfless acts I've ever seen by a public figure. Stefanie refused to play the victim, turning an ominous diagnosis into a chance to raise awareness about breast cancer and funds for research. After just six months, her appeal for $250,000 had been met with donations totaling four times that amount; ten years on, the foundation that bears her name has raised over $6.5 million.

Stefanie and Chris joined every challenge as true lifemates. As we saw them in public, candid and faithful, so they were in more private moments. Together they showed the world their unconditional love and a depth of character that's all too rare these days.

She pressed the monster into remission four times but, sadly, lost her fight in the fifth round. Stefanie Spielman died yesterday at 42, at home with her family by her side.

The echoes of Stefanie's personal courage will ring with all who knew her or simply know of her. I have no doubt that Chris will forge on with their mission, albeit now without his beloved partner.

What resonates within me, however, goes beyond any hometown connection or admirable struggle against terminal illness. In this world of spin, stunts and selfish superficiality, Stefanie and Chris Spielman -- inseparable, as both would insist that we see them -- leave me with an example of what it means to be real.

That's one helluva legacy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Impressions: KSF Complete Sharpening Kit

I love OtterBoxes.

Derrick and Wendy Bohn, proprietors of KnivesShipFree, love these bulletproof little cases, too, and they keep inventing new ways to carry and use them -- the KSF Leather Holt, the KSF Fire Kit and now the KSF Complete Sharpening Kit.

The sharpening kit is an
OtterBox 2000 stuffed with an assortment of edge-maintenance supplies: a two-sided leather hone, 20 strips of sandpaper (four each of five different grits) and two half-sticks of stropping compound (one black, one green). With the hone, compound and a couple of strips of each grit onboard, there's still room left for a small crock stick and a Sharpie.

The KSF kit is both tidy and capable, and using it is easy. If basic stropping is all that's required, simply load the leather hone with compound, set it into the rectangular recess on the top of the closed OtterBox and strop away -- black first, followed by green. For more aggressive sharpening, lay a strip of the desired grit of sandpaper over the leather hone, tuck the ends inside the OtterBox and close the lid to hold it in place.

The stropping method, by the way, isn't just for convex grinds. This morning I used the KSF kit to restore my trusty Victorinox Farmer to working sharpness. (I'd rolled the edge last week while cutting some cable, and yeah, it was the wrong tool for that job.) Just 20 minutes' attention with the finer grits and both compounds brought the knife back to the way I like it (as well as nudging the beveled edge toward convex).

It's tempting, I think, to see a compact kit like this only as a take-along thing, but the KSF Complete Sharpening Kit has more than enough muscle to handle 90% of the sharpening I do at home. It's a winner, a keeper and a bona fide bargain.

Earlier posts
Impressions: KSF Fire Kit
Impressions: KSF Leather Holt
Sharps: 'From the Edge'

KSF Sharpening Videos

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An observation is not a wish

Regional favorites notwithstanding, the annual football game between The Ohio State University Buckeyes and the University of Michigan Wolverines is widely regarded to be "The Greatest Rivalry in Sports."

Around here, we call it simply, "The Game."

Thing is, over the last eight years it hasn't been much of a "game" and, as a result, the "rivalry" tag is an awkward fit. The Buckeyes are 7-1 against Michigan since Jim Tressel took the reins, giving the Wolverines a taste of the futility that Ohio State felt under coach John Cooper, who went 2-10-1 against "that team up north."

A true rivalry requires a throw-out-the-records feeling, the kind of suspense that gives even the most rabid partisans pause. That hasn't been so since 2001, when a first-year coach -- on the day he was hired -- all but promised a win in Ann Arbor.

He delivered.

As much as I hate to say it, there's only one way for this ultimate rivalry to be restored: the underdog must defy the odds and win The Game -- Michigan (5-6) must beat Big Ten Champion Ohio State (9-2) this Saturday.

Yes, that's heresy, and no, it's not what I'll be cheering for. But any long-view Buckeye who loves OSU-Michigan and can put aside their rooting interest knows, deep-down, that it'd be all for the best.

There, I said it.

Now that I've purged myself of analysis, I want to say one more thing.

Screw the rivalry -- Beat Michigan!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


And so begins Beat Michigan Week.

Is it ok to believe?

My criticism of certain insubstantial public figures might lead a reader to conclude that independent critical thought is all that matters, that feelings and faith have no value.

That's not the point, of course.

In fact, operating purely from intellect is as insubstantial as relying only on emotion. A passionless person has little worth.

Head and heart coexist -- ἦθος and πάθος may not divorce. In proper balance, each informs the other, allowing us to see the world as it is.

So yes, it's ok to believe.

"If you don't stand for something," as the saying goes, "you're likely to fall for anything" -- an apt reminder of the pitfalls of living without purpose. Simply examining facts isn't enough. It certainly shouldn't be the end of the road.

Another aphorism, popular with the faith-full, goes like this: "God said it, I believe it and that settles it." Such a world-view manifests disregard for the (presumably) god-given gift of a working brain, faith that's as dangerous as it is blind.

Personally, I defer to the rational, or at least it's what I strive to do, but that's not to say that I hitch my wagon to reason alone. My values are products of observation, thought and emotion.

When I find myself in need of a tie-breaker, however, I remember the wisdom of Thoreau:
"In sane moments we regard only the facts, the case that is."
I'll explore the differences between facts and truth some other time. For now, here endeth the explanation.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The accidental comic

If you didn't catch last night's edition of CNN's "
Larry King Live," you missed some great comedy.

It's safe to say that near-Miss USA
Carrie Prejean didn't mean to be funny, but she really can't help it, can she? The interview had Mrs. KintlaLake and me laughing like we hadn't laughed in a long time.

Like the woman she idolizes -- "Sarah Palin is my hero" -- Prejean is a believer, and not just by religious definition. She truly believes that she's credible, that the words passing her lips make sense.

She isn't. They don't.

Forget the pageant hubbub and the boob-job, the racy photos and the sex video that she made for her boyfriend. Never mind that she scolded King last night as being "extremely inappropriate" for asking perfectly reasonable questions, and that she nearly walked off the set when the host had the audacity to take a call from a viewer.

No, the problem with Prejean, who whines that she's been "Palinized" mercilessly, is that she's a pure [sic] believer -- she operates solely from her values and feelings without passing them through the filter of critical thought (or expecting anyone else to do so, apparently). It's embarrassing and, as she demonstrated yesterday, laughable.

The Miss USA pageant, in a statement, said it well: "It appears that Carrie is frequently in error but never in doubt."

Raising embarrassment and humor to art forms are conservatives who hold the likes of Prejean and Palin as icons. I mean, many of my own positions are, by relative measure, conservative, but they're grounded in rational thought, not fanned by some fluffed-up persecution complex.

Yes, I've been pretty rough on Prejean and, long before that, Palin. I can summarize my reasons in two brief sentences:

An independent thinker has worth. Ideology-bound believers are a dime-a-dozen.

That's why neither the former Miss California nor the former Mayor of Wasilla has my sympathy, my admiration or (perish the thought) my vote.

They'll have my attention only when I need a good laugh.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Seen in Columbus

A new sign has gone up in Ohio's capital city.
No doubt there will be much wailing and rending of garments. Somewhere a misguided, unthinking soul is composing an angry letter to the editor of The Columbus Dispatch, condemning not only the Columbus Coalition of Reason for erecting the billboard, but the newspaper for publishing a photo of it on Veterans Day.

Even putting aside my own take on religion for a moment, I still contend that the actions of both the organization and the paper are perhaps an ultimate tribute to the men and women who have fought and died for our freedoms.

This is what it's about, People.

Columbus may not be the buckle of the Bible Belt but it's damned close, so a sign promoting acceptance of irreligion won't be very popular (to say the least). Anyone who's tempted to deface it as an affront to what they perceive as "a Christian nation," however, had better pull out their vest-pocket Constitution.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
As our veterans have protected and defended their fellow Americans' liberties to speak (or not) and worship (or not), so should we avoid insulting their sacrifices on our behalf by insisting that they fought for only one religion or a single ideology.

Thanks to the Founders, our veterans and their families, we're a free People -- let's act like it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Just who do you think you're talkin' to?

My family and I stayed close to home over the weekend. On both Saturday and Sunday we did, in fact, do laundry and watch football.

It was nothing special, unless relaxing is special (and for us it was). We didn't even prepare a meal.

Last night's "dinner" involved a swing through the local McDonald's drive-thru. When I placed our order, I noticed that the disembodied voice, while cordial and competent, bore a strange accent.

It was American, not foreign, striking me as the yah-sure-you-betcha-dontcha-know lilt typical of the upper Midwest and northern plains. Curious, I asked the young woman who handed me our bagged food if the friendly order-taker was in that building.

"Um, no -- they're in North Dakota."

Sometimes it feels like I've lived too long.

Oh, I do get it -- efficiency, centralization, customer experience and all that -- and I know that this stuff is nothing new. Even the Ohio Department of Taxation outsources its customer service to a private company in the state of Washington. I suppose it's some comfort knowing that I'm talking to employed Americans and not some offshore operation.

Still, the fact that my fast-food order must make an 1,800-mile electronic round-trip seems wrong somehow. The physical distance, enabled by technology, is short compared to how far we've strayed from the whole concept of neighbor-to-neighbor service.

Yesterday's experience reinforced -- and in some ways redefines -- my personal perception of "local commerce."

In a few hours I'll return to the working world, taking my pay from a small, independent, truly local business. And while much of what it sells is made outside the U.S., when a customer buys an oil filter, a wheel bearing or whatnot, they'll be talking to a living, breathing local in the same building.

In this imperfect commercial world, I can feel good about that.

Friday, November 6, 2009

At the overlook

The latest cycle-of-days puts us on the threshold of that recurring respite we call a weekend.

This one's different.

My wife and I have served notice to her parents, our spawns and the dogs that we'll be spending the next two days as we like, perhaps even irresponsibly. We may drive to Waldo for fried bologna or we might stay home to do laundry and watch football, but whatever we do there's to be no drama and no stress -- we insist.

See, this may be the last conventional weekend we'll have together for a while -- but that's not a bad thing. On Monday morning, and for the first time in thirty months, I'll get up, leave the house and go to work at a regular job.

I didn't call it "a real job" because my consulting work is as real as can be. It simply hasn't produced enough income.

Last week brought me two (count 'em) job offers, a relative embarrassment of riches considering the hundreds of dry holes I've drilled over that past two-and-a-half years. One offer was to manage a cell-phone store less than five minutes from home, the other to work at a somewhat-more-distant motorcycle shop specializing in used (salvaged) parts for a particular marque.

For a variety of reasons, I declined the former and chose the latter. My fundamental distaste for mobile-phone addiction notwithstanding, lacking other options I would've been willing (if disappointed) to descend into retail hell. The moto-parts business is friendlier to me, of course, and I found this small, independent shop intriguingly funky and appealingly warm.

I also saw it as a chance for me to acquire new skills, useful if the current economic downturn becomes a free-fall. Add an 11-mile commute down two-lane country roads and it was a no-brainer.

I haven't punched a clock in almost 30 years. I won't get rich, especially working part-time for the first few months. I'll have Wednesdays and Sundays off, which (combined with the shop hours) will let me keep pursuing my photography and consulting.

So that's what awaits me on the other side of this weekend. For the next two days, though, I'm going to revel in each and every moment.

A long ordeal is behind me.

Passing strange

We were reminded yesterday afternoon of a colossal irony -- that the American military personnel who swear to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" often are prevented from exercising their rights under that Constitution.

"As a matter of course, we don't carry weapons. This is our home," said Ft. Hood post commander Lt. Gen. Bob Cone in the wake of a mass shooting that killed 13 and wounded 30.

I won't presume to suggest that the U.S. Army established this policy thoughtlessly or that it should be rescinded. I observe only its inevitably tragic result.

Prohibiting the lawful carry of defensive weapons, whether within the bounds of a military installation or in the larger civilian world, creates so-called "unarmed victims zones." By statute, it cedes murderous advantage to the madman, the terrorist, the criminal.

It charges "a well-regulated militia," as defined by the enemies of Liberty, with defending the citizenry. So despite the fact that military police and civilian officers arrived quickly at the scene of yesterday's massacre -- before neutralizing the threat, at least two first responders were hit by gunfire -- their bravery and dedication didn't alter reality.

When seconds count, help is just minutes away.

That's not good enough -- not for me, not for my family and not for my country. This is, to echo Gen. Cone, my home. I stand prepared to defend it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Follow-up (sort of)

First of all, Ohio voters approved Issue 3 yesterday. The Home team won by a touchdown -- the final score was Critical Thinkers 53, Visitors 47.

Also, this morning I happened across this phenomenal PowerPoint presentation. Put together by Kevin Estela of
Wilderness Learning Center, it's one of the best primers I've seen on the subject.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Volleys & votes

My father-in-law is in the habit of mumbling observations from behind his morning newspaper, usually in response to what he's reading, occasionally to the ideological drumbeat of Faux News blaring from the kitchen television.

Sometimes he lobs comments at things that other family members say at the table, and he takes particular delight in buttonholing me. Such was the case last night, when Mrs. KintlaLake and I were talking idly about my old and seldom-used GPS unit.

"So whaddaya gonna do when the satellites go down?" he grumbled while twirling his spaghetti.

"I'll use paper maps, of course, and a compass if one's handy," I replied quickly. "See, it's unwise to rely on technology, but personally I have no problem with learning how to use it."

"Hmph." He felt the dig and stopped twirling.

I reminded him of something that happened not long after my family and I moved in, a day that I'd innocently dead-bolted the door between the attached garage and the house. It seemed a reasonable thing to do when leaving the place unoccupied.

When my in-laws returned from the grocery that day, they used the electric garage-door opener to raise the overhead door but were unable to get into the house -- because neither carries a key.

"So what happens if you come back and the power's out?" I asked.

"Whaddaya mean?" He wasn't making the connection.

"How would you get into this house without electricity?"

There was a pause while the light dawned. "I guess we wouldn't."

I hesitate to chalk up this sort of thing to his advanced age or incurable narrow-mindedness. His unwillingness to think things through is simply expected now.

Not long ago he popped off about "the damned casino issue," otherwise known as statewide Ballot Issue 3. If Ohio voters approve the measure at the polls today, it'd clear the way for casino gambling in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and nearby Columbus.

"Oh, you mean the jobs issue," I responded, leaning on independent studies projecting that the four casinos would generate 34,000 temporary and permanent jobs, plus $1 billion dollars in revenue and $500 million in taxes annually.

"No, it's about casinos and I'll vote against it. It's a bad deal for Ohio," he said, parroting TV commercials telling him that all of the money would go to out-of-state casino operators -- TV commercials funded by those very same out-of-state casino operators.

When I pressed him for more, he explained that he didn't feel that it was right "to set up a way for poor people to gamble away money they can't afford to lose."

By that logic, I thought, presumably he also opposes alcohol, tobacco, eBay, QVC, Wal-Mart and individual investing.

"The way I see it," I said, "part of the price of life in a free society is allowing some of our fellow citizens to make unwise choices -- to make choices that we wouldn't make ourselves."

"You really think this is a free society?" he shot back.

"Not if we keep voting against it, it's not."

When a touch-screen ballot machine asked me this morning for my vote on Issue 3, I didn't hesitate -- I pressed "YES." It's about jobs.

More than that, perhaps, it's about actually thinking things through.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


This morning, for the first time in many months, the axe that is our former home no longer is poised over my neck. We are, practically if not formally, out.

The actual sale won't take place for three weeks. Having tired of paying even token amounts for utilities and insurance, however, we informed the bank early last month that we were shutting the place down at midnight on Halloween.

In hindsight, that seems fitting.

Mrs. KintlaLake and I scooped up the final bits yesterday afternoon, hauling some to storage and the rest back here. A few pieces of unsold 1980s-vintage bedroom furniture remain in the barn, awaiting an impulsive (if tardy) buyer or a local charity's truck. I'll take the last of the trash to the curb tomorrow evening for Tuesday pickup.

That's it -- well dry, lights out, gas off. At long last, we're done.

Before leaving, I strolled around the property, kicking through overgrown grass and unraked leaves, conjuring memories. I struggle, as my wife does, to remember what we enjoyed in that wonderful place rather than dwelling on what might have been but is no more.

This was the first house that our family called "home." It's where we held our wedding reception and celebrated more than a dozen birthdays, set three Thanksgiving tables and decorated a like number of Christmas trees. We sweated and groaned and hauled and dug and made the place our own, coaxing beauty from the landscape and bounty from the soil.

Warm summer evenings on the front porch and snow angels in the back yard. The tartness of fresh-picked raspberries and the aroma of chili wafting from the kitchen. A doe sampling our apples, a rabbit we called "Crip" and a hummingbird hovering inches from my nose.

Rolling down the driveway for the last time, a swirl of brown pine needles in our wake, we left the place silent, dark and empty. Our hearts, on the other hand, along with our tearing eyes, were full.

We carried with us what we built there -- memories of the best of times and a home that travels with us wherever we go.