Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Garth Ranzz (Lightning Lad) is introduced, along with the rest of the Legion of Super-Heroes, in "Adventure Comics" #247 (April 1958).

Lightning Lad was the first Legionaire to die, in "Adventure Comics" #304 (January 1963). An alien invader named Zaryan was about to conquer the Earth. A friendly alien race communicates with the Legion to warn them, but says that a Legionaire will die while stopping Zaryan. Saturn Girl sees the message first and destroys it. As Legion Leader, she becomes a tyrant and uses a high-tech medallion to steal every Legionaire's powers. Her goal is to accumulate enough powers to stop Zaryan and die in the process.

Mon-el, recently made a Legionaire but still trapped in the Phantom Zone due to his lead allergy, sees all this and warns Lightning Lad. He intercepts Saturn Girl as she is about to attack. He uses his lightning powers to blast Zaryan's ship, destroying it and stopping the invasion. Zaryan hits him with a freeze ray at the same time, and he dies in Saturn Girl's arms.

With his death, several heroes attempt to join the Legion and are rejected -- so they form the Legion of Substitute Heroes ("Adventure Comics" #305 [February 1963]). Then Marvel Lad shows up and joins the Legion. It turns out it's really Mon-el in disguise, using a new long-lasting lead allergy serum ("Adventure Comics" #306 [March 1963]). When space pirates strike, a new hero named Mystery Lad shows up to help stop them. He joins the Legion under the name Element Lad ("Adventure Comics" #307 [April 1963]).

In "Adventure Comics" #308 (May 1963), Legionaires visiting Lightning Lad's tomb see that the "perpetual lightning machine" over his coffin has revived him. The Legion goes off on various missions, but come to realize that Lightning Lad is an imposter. It is: It turns out it's his sister, Ayla, having shaved her hair and strapped down her breasts. She is accepted into the Legion as a new member, Lightning Lass.

The Legionaires kind of forget about Lightning Lad, battling Jungle King aka Monster Masher ("Adventure Comics" #309 [June 1963]) Mr. Mxyzptlk V ("Adventure Comics" #310 [July 1963]), and some aliens impersonating the Legion ("Adventure Comics" #311 [August 1963]).

In "Adventure Comics" #312 (September 1963), Saturn Girl is all weepy and upset about Lightning Lad's death again. The Legion decides to play God and find a way to resurrect him. Superboy visits a world where all the inhabitants of a binary star system die while living under an orange sun, but are revived when living under their blue sun. Unfortunately, exposing the corpse to blue run rays doesn't help. Mon-el and Saturn Girl visit a planet where the Taroc -- a giant monster -- is said to revive after death. Instead, they discover it just gives birth to a youngster at death.

Sun Boy, Chameleon Boy, and Lightning Lass visit the planet Skor. They help an "interplanetary post office" fend off some space serpents, but two men are trapped in the freezing cold of outer space. The Skorians revived them using a "radium chamber". But when this is tried on Lightning Lad, it fails -- as his cells are decaying.

Saturn Girl keeps sensing that Mon-el isn't telling the truth about finding a cure for death. She lies and tells him to fly her to a distant planet, where she's heard of a cure. They pass by Daxam as they do, and Saturn Girl opens her space-helmet. With her life in danger, Mon-el lands on Daxam. Saturn Girl overhears how the Daxamites have a way to bring the unliving to life. Mon-el confesses: Using a lightning rod developed by the Daxamites, the life-force of a living person can be transferred into that of a dead person if the rod is struck by intense lightning. But the living person dies in the process. Mon-el had intended to sacrifice his life to revive Lightning Lad, but couldn't get away from Saturn Girl to do it.

With the secret out, the six Legionaires each decide to hold a rod, and let chance decide who shall die in order to revive Garth. Saturn Girl secretly switches her rod with one made of "duralim" which is far more likely to attract lightning.

Sure enough, she dies. Lightning Lad comes back to life. The Legionaires watch in horror as Saturn Girl's corpse dissolves. It turns out that it was really Chameolon Boy's pet, Proty, who had taken her place. (Proty had lured her into some caverns and gotten her lost so it could take her place.)

All's well that ends well!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

I have, at last a little breathing room for my home video collection.

But I'm out of space between the door and the couch.

It's been 50 years since the Cuyahoga River caught fire.

Here is your list of major Cuyahoga River fires.

Cleveland's river was not particularly prone to fires, no more or less than any other river or harbor in the U.S. with adjacent industrial areas. In our area, the source for most fires was oil byproducts from the gigantic Standard Oil works (located at the massive area bounded by Broadway Avenue, I-77, and I-490). Steel mills, iron foundries, chemical works, shipbuilding, shipping, lumber mills, box and furniture manufacturing, and a wide range of other sources also contributed oil and debris.

"Anyone who falls into the Cuyahoga does not drown," the locals joked. "He decays."

The worst fire occurred in 1936. Oil sludge at the Erie Railroad bridge (just east of the North Broadway neighborhood) burst into flame after sparks from welding going on at a neglected freighter hit the water. The fire, although not particularly big or intense, raged out of control for five days because no fireboats could reach it from the ice-bound river. Firefighters couldn't reach the blaze, either, since no water mains were close enough. Fire personnel ended up dumping water on it from above. The damage done to the railroad bridge was $1 million -- that's $18 million in 2018 dollars.

The second most costly fire was also the largest and most intense. In November 1952, a Standard Oil tanker was leaking huge amounts of gasoline onto the river. Most likely, workers at the Great Lakes Towing Co. caused a spark that set the gasoline ablaze. Great Lakes Towing was destroyed. That Standard Oil tanker was barely scorched.

Historians count it as a "river fire", but the 1883 fire didn't actually reach the Cuyahoga. During a terrific storm in February, Kingsbury Run burst its banks. The Great Western Oil Works, inland from Standard Oil (just south of the intersection of E. 34th and Broadway), was flooded. Their furnace overturned, and the coals and sparks caught the oil-coated stream on fire. Practically all the city's fire companies tried to fight the blaze as it moved downstream. They tried to divert the stream with lumber, tried using hoses to push the fire to one side of the stream -- nothing worked. When the fire hit Standard Oil, gigantic explosions rocks the area as oil tank after oil tank went ablaze. Standard Oil was wiped out. And then, just as the burning creek was about to hit the Cuyahoga... the fire died out.

The 1969 fire was pretty small as fires go. It only lasted 30 minutes, and didn't do much damage at all to the railroad trestle. Buildings on shore weren't even smoke-damaged.

It was also the last time the Cuyahoga burned. Cleveland was already in the process of spending $100 million ($685 million in 2018 dollars) on new sewers, wastewater treatment, waste diversion, and more to try to save the Cuyahoga.

The 1969 fire just happened to occur as the environmental movement was going into high gear, and became the poster child for all that was wrong with our environment.

What the fuck is a skull-cracker?

You've probably seen video of molten steel being poured from a gigantic ladle. With each pouring, some steel cools in the ladle and remains stuck to its inside. The shell that forms is called a "skull". Gradually, the skull diminishes the ladle's capacity and must be removed. The ladle is taken to a "skull cracker" -- where the skull is shattered with great force, then the ladle is returned to service.

It's not where the Cleveland Torso Murderer hung out.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Hugo Mayhew is gorgeous.

But look more closely. His eyes, which almost everyone comments on, are mostly eyeliner and mascara. In most of his most popular photos, he's a walking Sephora commercial.

Look at his selfies, taken when he's not modeling. His face is not nearly as delicate. Indeed, as he's getting older, he's losing a lot of that delicacy that made him so popular as a college junior.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Ellie almost burned down my house tonight. She decided to eat out of an iron skillet cooling on the stovetop. It was pushed to the back of the stove, and I think she got up on her hind legs and stuck her nose in it. I've seen her do this once before, two months ago.

As she got down, she inadvertently turned on one of the burners.

I smelled the smoke and rushed downstairs. The pan was red-hot and the ground floor was full of smoke.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

I've spent the better part of the last four weeks at it, and finally the back yard is all raked of leaves. The leaves are composting in two piles (one down in God's County(tm) and the other in the old garden bed next to the driveway). Grass seed is down on a third of the lawn, and that portion has been aerated and limed.

I still need to rake a part of the rear driveway, but that will be part of the front yard work -- as the leaves from the driveway will be blown into the front yard and onto the tree lawn for city pick-up and recycling.

I still need to aerate, seed, and lime the remaining two-thirds of the rear lawn, but that's not as urgent as getting the leaves up. I needed to do that so the lawn isn't smothered and so composting can begin.

The front lawn needs to be raked of leaves. Leaves are not actually on the lawn, but under and around bushes and around trees. Once I do that, it's leaf-blowing.

I need to aerate and lime the front yard, and lay down moss-prevention fertilizer. That can be done in May.

For my trouble, I've gotten tennis-elbow, which I've been treating with ice and rest for the last four days. Friday was the first day I felt mostly normal.

(Uhhh... sure, both images are me.)

Sunday, April 7, 2019

I'm terrible at patterns. That tartan goes with clan..... ??

It looks like an old curtain. If one pulls on the cord, do you think it would open?

Do you HOPE it would open???

I wonder what the view is, once the curtain opens.

It's hard writing about National Historic Districts. You have to build the story, write a narrative, and basically know EVERYTHING THERE IS about a place.

Then you start talking about the buildings that make it up.

The good thing is that I'm a shutterbug, so I get to visit the district a bazillion times to take photos.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

He's the definition of "long and lean".

Cleveland Fire Truck 1 cab and panel - Justice Center The Cleveland firefighters' union says 48 percent of fire engines, 54 percent of ladder trucks, and 100 percent of ambulances are in fair or poor condition -- imperiling the safety of residents.

How they made that judgement call is unclear, since an Ohio Fire Chiefs study says there's no criteria for assessing firefighting equipment. (No, seriously. "Tradition and personal sentiment" are what's used. OMFG!!!)

Let's review Mayor Jackson's oversight of the Division of Fire, shall we?
  • In 2006, the Division of Fire signed a document in which it admitted it had openly discriminated against minority firefighters. It paid $650,000 in back-pay to African American, Asian, and Latino fire personnel instead of spending the money on new equipment and structural repair.
  • In 2008, the city rolled out a trial program to have an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or paramedic assigned to each fire company in the city. With the city operating only four Emergency Medical Services (EMS) squads (three squads with four ambulances, and one with five) at the time, EMS response was often too slow (and too deadly). A grievance filed by the EMS union later halted the program. The same year, a scandal hit the fire academy when several paramedic cadets were found to have cheated on exams. The city was in crisis in terms of EMS personnel as 88 paramedics had quit in the last two years for better-paying jobs in the suburbs and other states. In July 2008, the Fire Academy held its first classes in years. A decade earlier, 53 people had passed the test to enter the Fire Academy, but the city only got around to asking them to train a decade later. (The Division of Fire had 883 firefighters that year, and was budgeted for 906. The department was only losing about 25 people a year, so the lack of Fire Academy classes isn't as surprising as it seems.)
  • In 2009, an audit of the Division of Fire's completely paper-based payroll system showed an immense amount of and the potential for abuse. Fire Chief Paul Stubbs had promised to automate the payroll and scheduling system three years earlier, but never followed through. By 2011, record-keeping was still so bad that firefighters were not charged for sick leave -- allowing them to cash in huge amounts of accumulated leave at retirement. Four after first taking office, Mayor Jackson finally paid attention to fire and EMS services by proposing a merger between the two divisions. The Fire Academy held its first test-taking (to screen applicants for admission to the academy) since 1998.
  • In 2011, a shift-trading scandal was uncovered in the Division of Fire. Some firefighters had worked as few as five days a year, trading shifts with other firefighters. Many of the most egregious shift-traders were working other jobs (like substitute teaching) while getting time-in-position to qualify for luxurious firefighter pensions. Fire Chief Stubbs quietly retired in 2012. Jackson relieved the new Fire Chief, Daryl McGinnis, of duty over the scandal in 2013. (Jackson's reason was that McGinnis had failed to certify graduates of the Fire Academy. While that may be true, it's also true McGinnis had never uncovered the shift-trading.) Firefighters were furious at new time-keeping and personnel rules enacted in the wake of the scandal which largely prevented them from shift-trading in the future. Later, 17 supervisors were later disciplined or dismissed; the union appealed all the punishments. Also in 2011, state budget cuts led Jackson to take engines out of service at Fire Station 21, close Battalion 1 at Fire Station 17, and take Engine 17, Ladder 9, and Ladder 42 out of service.
  • In 2012, firefighters were found to have received credit for continuing education they never received. Some supervisors had colluded in the practice. Jackson pooh-pooh'ed the need for such certification, even though it is required by state law, city ordnance, and best-practice professional standards and pushed for by the union. City voters turned down a charter amendment that would have allowed the mayor to appoint the Fire Chief. (Currently, applicants must pass a civil service exam win approval from the city's nonpartisan Civil Service Commission.)
  • In 2013, the Fire Academy held its first graduation in four years with 39 recruits (four of whom were paramedics). Jackson just didn't notice that the fire academy had been moribund from 2008 to 2012.
  • In 2014, Jackson was notified that a third of all the city's firefighters were eligible to retire, and a whopping 71 percent were within 10 years of retirement. (Firefighters are eligible for retirement after 25 years of service, but most in Cleveland stick around until they have logged between 30 and 33 years.) Nothing was done about it. The same year, an exterminator hired to treat fire stations throughout the city refused to do the work because the city had failed to pay the firm in the past. The same year, the Jackson administration announced a five-year plan to replace and upgrade the city’s safety vehicles. (The first engine was received in November 2015.) NOTE: If this plan got any news attention at the time, I cannot find it.
  • Fire Chief Patrick Kelly quit in 2015 after two years on the job. He was under investigation at the time for failing to properly certify cadets at the Fire Academy and failing to ensure that incumbent personnel received the continuing education credits they had trained for. The same year, 35 firefighters were disciplined for violating policies on outside employment, and the firefighters' union finally rejected the proposal to merge fire and EMS units that year.
  • In 2016, Angelo Calvillo formally became Cleveland's new Fire Chief. Calvillo asked for only $480,000 in new personnel expenditures and $480,000 in capital expenditures that year (all of which came from the city's hike in income taxes).
  • In 2017, the Fire Department got $2.8 million in new funding from the city, which it spent on four support staff, new bulletproof vests, a new records management system, and the reopening of a downtown station. Yet another cheating scandal hit the fire department, this time over promotional exams.

Fire Station 13 sign - ClevelandThat's a sad history of neglect.

But what about those vehicles? The Cleveland Division of Fire operates 35 firefighting vehicles, in addition to a number of command, support, maintenance, and specialty vehicles (such as hazmat trucks). Is the Division not getting new equipment?

It's amazingly hard to figure out when the Division of Fire gets new equipment. Jackson's Mayor's Annual Report used to document this, but he stopped putting those out in 2015. It seems, however, that 11 engines and four ladder trucks have been replaced since 2006.

Allegedly, Jackson implemented a "five year plan" in 2014 to replace firefighting vehicles in the Division of Fire.
  • 2008 - Two engines, one ladder truck. (Also two command vehicles.)
  • 2009 - No new vehicles. (Also one new Battalion Commander vehicle.)
  • 2010 - Two engines. (Also one new Battalion Commander vehicle.)
  • 2011 - One ladder truck.
  • 2012 - No new vehicles.
  • 2013 - No new vehicles.
  • 2014 - One engine.
  • 2015 - Four engines, one ladder truck. (Also one investigation and one Assistant Chief vehicle.)
  • 2016 - No new vehicles.
  • 2017 - Two engines, one ladder truck.

Jackson had a "five-year capital budget" from 2011 to 2016. These showed when Jackson planned for firefighting vehicles to be purchased, but his administration stopped publishing these in 2017.
  • 2011 capital plan - Proposed spending zero in 2011 and $750,000 a year for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 on vehicles.
  • 2012 capital plan - Proposed spending zero in 2012, 2013, and 2014, and $750,000 a year for 2015 and 2016 on vehicles.
  • 2013 capital plan - Proposed spending zero in 2013 and 2014, $750,000 in 2015 and 2016, and zero in 2017 on vehicles.
  • 2014 capital plan - Zero expenditures for the next five years.
  • 2015 capital plan - Zero expenditures for the next five years.
  • 2016 capital plan - Zero expenditures for the next five years.
  • 2017 capital plan - Zero expenditures for the next five years.

Engine 10 - Cleveland Division of FireIt's possible Jackson put vehicle expenditures somewhere else in the budget, but the city's budget documents are notoriously absent on details.

There's very little in the way of hard data on when to replace a fire engine or ladder. The Ohio Fire Chiefs, in a 2003 report, said "tradition and personal sentiment" generally told fire departments when to replace their vehicles. (If you can believe that!) The National Fire Protection Association requires engines and ladders to pass annual service tests, but it's not clear if the Division of Fire is doing those tests or what the results are. The state of Ohio requires ladder trucks to undergo safety testing annually, but the union says that isn't happening.

Refurbishment rather than replacement of existing firefighting vehicles is possible, but once again there are no criteria, decision-making rules, or matrices to help fire departments decide when refurbishment rather than replacement is a good idea.
Damn, those are pretty eyes.

I'm hyped to go see it!

Only in Cleveland.....

Friday, April 5, 2019

Kurt Cobain
(February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994)

I know exactly where I was and what I was doing when I found out he had died.

Culber's whole reaction to being rescued has been poor. He may not know who he is, what he feels, or anything else. But instead of reaching out to the people who knew him best and could help him find his way forward, he pushed them away. He pushed Stamets away.

Yes, Statmets was all clingy and "I want you back". But Culber acted like some '70s housewife with his "I need to discover myself first before I can love!" attitude. He was wrong. A person never defines himself in isolation.

Moreover, the path Culber was taking was to allow other people in (those friends we saw him with, laughing and talking), while keeping Stamets out.

That's shitty.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Now I'm feeling all patriotic-like.

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that Hill 57 near Great Falls, Montana, has since about 1900 been home to a small, homeless community of Cree, M├ętis, and Ojibwe (also known as Chippewa) whose extreme economic deprivation has caused the term "Hill 57" to become "a byword for urban Indian poverty"?
I keep trying to find floor plans for the Hay-McKinney Mansion here in Cleveland, and keep coming up empty. However, I did find 1912 photos of parts of the mansion in 1912 issues of The Brickbuilder. God, I love these old magazines!

More Hay-McKinney Mansion photos from 1912, this time from Architecture magazine. Unlike today, there were dozens of construction, constructution trade union, and building materials magazines back then, and they had hundreds of pages per issue. Even small-ish buildings and residences warranted at least a few lines in their news columns, and more important structures got the full treatment. These are a great resource!

I love the way the photographer captured this pensive, defenseless moment. Usually, really handsome, built guys like this have so much crap up to fend off the attention and sexual interest... but here, the guy looks -- well, normal.