Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Class reunion open to all

“A pretty girl is like a melody...”

 Yes, indeed. My own personal pretty girl is very much like a melody. A melody that I can never do without.

There are many other songs about pretty girls, and they all make sense to me.

“There are girls just waiting for kisses, and I want to get me a few.”

Another compelling sentiment. I agree wholeheartedly. But do you notice the references to “girls?

Songwriters never say anything about “ladies” or “women.” At least, not in my record collections they don’t.

No, love songs are almost always about girls – especially pretty girls.

There must be a reason. I believe that pretty girls are here to stay.

Now, I don’t know the cutoff age at which “girls” become “ladies” or “women,” but I don’t care, and I’m not going to worry about it any more.

Here’s the situation: I am closely associated with several ladies who prefer not to be called “girls,” and that is OK with me. They sure look like girls to me, but what do I know?

My point is this (I knew I had one here someplace): My brother and I walked into Burgers N Beer in Downtown Willoughby a couple of Sundays ago and I was greeted by a very pretty girl who said, “Hi, Jim.”

She turned out to be the daughter of John Hesketh, who graduated a year before I did from Willoughby Union High School.

She wondered if the lady of the house and I are going to attend the annual high school reunion which is staged every year through the efforts of Ed Glavac, who was in Hesketh’s class (1945). I responded that it was in our plan.

The reunion is no longer exclusively for people who attended Union High. It is now open to friends. That is good, because we are running out of Union High people.

(The school closed about 1957 and was replaced by North and South highs).

That means you may attend. The reunion will be held Aug. 1 at the Patrician Party Center, 33150 Lakeland Blvd., Eastlake. It is a dinner-dance, slated for 4 to 9 p.m., with excellent food served family-style and dancing to the music of the popular Joey Tomsick Orchestra.

The cost is a very modest $25 per person. There will be an open bar, door prizes, a 50/50 raffle and a lot of fun guaranteed for all.

And that, of course, includes you.

Like all special events, there is a deadline. You must order your tickets by July 25. And you must submit a self-addressed envelope with a check made out to W.U.H. and sent to:

Ed Glavac
7465 Harding St.
Mentor, Ohio 44060.

If you would like to sit with friends, make a note of it when you order your tickets.

You can buy an ad in the program for $25, $50 or $100. Any additional information, for example your class year, any maiden or married names or other data would be helpful if submitted.

This is the 19th Reunion Dinner Dance, and if you can find a better meal for $25, let me know about it and I will give it a try.

If you have any questions, Ed Glavac can answer them if you call him at 440-953-0510.

The only problem the lady of the house and I have with the event is the timing.

We can’t get our two beautiful puppies fed and get there by 4 p.m. And in our household, the five animals (Maggie, Tricia, and the cats, Angel, Ruby and the newest member of the clan, tiny kitty Lillibelle) come first.

If you are an animal lover, you understand what I am talking about.

And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our feelings about the five of them cannot be expressed in mere words.

And that is the kind of people we are.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Memories of John Glenn that will last forever

When I was in college, I wrote a term paper on the novelist Thomas Hardy. I never knew what compelled me to do that, but I think it might have been his sense of orderliness.
In his many volumes of writings, he never left any loose ends. When he brought up a subject, he finished it.
There must be a reason why I am telling you this. And there is.
A couple weeks ago, when I was writing about John Glenn and the man who worked for him for so many years, Dale Butland, I left some unfinished business. I said there were three things about the former astronaut and U.S. senator that I will never forget. I promised to recapture them. This is the day.
Dale has worked for John since 1980, and reports that his former boss is now 92 years old and living well and quietly, although he is no longer driving – which must seem strange to a man who orbited the Earth all alone in a space capsule and never had to look for a parking space.
One of the things I remember best about John Glenn came during one of his occasional visits to The News-Herald, when he stopped in just to chat, which he did from time to time.
He had with him a copy of People Magazine. It was dated Oct. 13, 1980. A teaser headline on the cover said: “How Mrs. Glenn overcame stuttering.” (The beautiful blonde on the cover was Cathy Lee Crosby. But I digress.)
The lengthy article inside told how “A senator’s wife licks her political nemesis: stuttering.”
To say that her husband was proud of her would be more than a mere understatement. You had to know the man to understand how much he loved her and the high esteem in which he held her.
“Here,” he said, “you can keep this,” as he handed me the magazine.
Those of you who know me and who have seen the jazz records in my basement are aware that I don’t throw many things away.
Which is totally opposite from the lady of the house, who never lets a day go by without throwing things away.
As you have probably guessed, I still have the magazine. I wish I had asked John to sign it, but I never think of things like that until it is too late.
I do think, however, I will take it with me when I have lunch with Dale Butland at Corky and Lenny’s and ask him to get John to sign it for me.
There is a great picture of John and Annie sitting at the controls of his twin-engine Beechcraft Baron. Which brings up the second thing I remember about John.
I was in Washington for a visit with the four men who represented this area at the time. Three of them were most cordial.
U.S. Rep. Bill Stanton asked me to his home to have dinner with him and Peggy, an invitation I was happy to accept.
Rep. Charlie Vanik sat in his office and chatted with me for more than hour. Charlie was one of the finest gentlemen you could ever hope to meet.
Bill was a Republican and Charlie a Democrat, but they were both Great Americans and so thoroughly decent that it’s a shame we can’t have a few hundred more like them in Congress instead of some of the ... oh well, let’s skip that.
I had a long chat with John Glenn in his office. He started out by saying, “How’s Ev Mastrangelo?” I told him Ev was fine and that I played bridge with the Lake County Democrat chairman at least once a week.
After our lengthy conversation, John asked how I was getting home to Ohio. He offered me a ride in his plane. I thanked him profusely, but said my car was parked at Hopkins, and he said he was flying into Burke Lakefront. So I had to turn down his very kind offer.
(The fourth person I hoped to see was Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, but he flatly turned me down. Oh well, three out of four isn’t bad, especially when the three were all people so beloved by the pubic.)
Here’s my third remembrance of John Glenn. He stopped in at the paper one day just as we were about to start construction on a new pressroom at our former building, which is only a few steps from our present building.
“Come with me,” John, I said. “We’re going to have a groundbreaking and there’s an extra shovel.”
So a dozen or so of us went outside, we grabbed shovels, and one of our crack photographers took a picture of us, including the senator/astronaut, digging a shovel of dirt to break ground on the addition.
That picture is another thing I probably have stashed away someplace, but please don’t ask me where that might be. It might take me a few days to find it.
A footnote: The reason I met Dale Butland for lunch at Corky and Lenny’s was so he could introduce me to his candidate for U.S. Senate, P.G. Sittenfeld, who will be running next year in the Democratic primary against Ted Strickland. The winner will oppose Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who remains one of the nicest people I have ever met. Dale and P.G. were on a whirlwind tour of Akron, Cleveland and Youngstown, and our lunch spot was the closest place we could connect.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The science behind the perfect password

Some alarming news has come to my attention, and I thought I’d better share it with you before it’s too late for you to do anything about it so you can take appropriate safeguards if you choose.
It has to do with an essay I wrote recently about my amazing ability to come up with safe passwords for use on computers.
By that, I mean passwords that cannot be breached, or hacked into, as it were, within a reasonable period of time.
If you are just learning to use a computer and you don’t know yet what a password is, it may be too late.
But passwords are made-up, or contrived, secret keys that open the world to you so that you may use the machine without anyone else knowing what you are doing.
They are sort of like PINs on your car’s engine, or your bank account, that allow you to keep secrets from others who may want to know what you are doing.
Since we are now, in this lesson, studying advanced computer usage (it’s sort of like advanced algebra) let us proceed with our lesson on how to make up passwords that no one can decipher.
After my last essay on the subject, I received an email from no less an authority than His Honor Gene Lucci, who is not only a highly respected member of the judiciary in Lake County and who sits on the bench in Lake County Common Pleas Court, but he is also the resident expert on the use of computers in the courtroom.
Be advised there is a great deal of difference in “sitting on the bench” in court and in baseball.
In baseball, you don’t get to play unless someone else is hurt or is taken out of the game by the manager for shoddy performance.
In court, when you are on the bench, you are actually working and listening attentively as lawyers are trying to keep crooked clients out of prison while prosecutors are trying to send them up the river.
In this instance, the river is the Hudson and the place prosecutors are trying to send them is Sing Sing. But we don’t have a Hudson River here, so they just try to send them away for a while to keep them away from the law-abiding citizens.
But I digress. That is about upper level work in law enforcement. Here we’re talking about passwords, and my close friend Gene Lucci knows everything there is to know about them.
In my essay, I noted that pi to 20 places would be an excellent password, especially if you don’t give it away by starting with 3, (as in three point) and just using the next 20 numbers as a way of fooling people, which is the exact idea when making up freakish passwords.
Gene, the expert, informed me that it would take a desktop a quadrillion years to crack that code if it contained the three point.
“Without the decimal point, it would take only 7,000 years to crack,” he estimated.
But who’s in a hurry?
“There is a website that will tell you how to secure a password,” he wrote. “Check it out. It is (are you ready for this?)”
So good luck with that. And happy sailing into the harbor of safe passwords. But I have an entirely different approach to the subject. Make your password as simple and as easy for outsiders to figure out as possible. And if somebody hacks into your computer, who cares?
At least, in my case I don’t care because I have nothing to hide. The only interesting thing an outsider would find in my computer at home would be a bunch of old emails and stuff people have sent me that I have saved.
For example, the most compelling thing you might find would be an old film clip of Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell tap-dancing to “Begin the Beguine.”
It is sensational. But if you really want to see it, don’t try to hack into my computer. I will be happy to send it to you.
Greg Patt, my personal computer guru, told me I don’t even need a password, because there is nothing there worth looking at.
Besides, he said, my password is much too complicated. Just so we are not holding anything back, it is “MaggieTricia” (our two beautiful puppies) plus four numbers in reverse order which were my street address on Maplewood Drive when I lived in Parma in 1959.
I would like to submit that to Judge Lucci to see how he rules on how long it would take to crack it.
But, of course, he doesn’t even have to crack it, because I already told you everything you need to know except the house number.
I will give you a clue: It is four numeral digits between zero and ten. And that’s as far as I am going to go.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sit down with Sittenfeld may prove to be informative

The good thing about this year’s elections is that they are local, so we may be spared the usual onslaught of TV commercials advising us which candidates are best qualified for whatever offices they are seeking.
The main problem with political ads on TV is that, unless you record the programs you are watching, you cannot speed through the commercials.
You just have to sit there and suffer – unless it is time for a trip to the refrigerator and the “mute” clicker for your TV doesn’t work.
As I have pointed out in the past, at our house we call everything that works the TV, the garage door or anything else that has a remote control a “clicker.”
In the sophisticated world of electronics, that sort of jargon may seem odd, but as long as the lady of the house and I speak the same language, what does it matter?
But I digress.
Politics this early in an odd-numbered year is often the furthest thing from my mind. It is parked there, in my mental garage, along with other things that I don’t particularly want to think about as I am preparing to cut the grass, trim the hedges or look for something I have been unable to find, for example, the spare turn signal bulb I stashed away following a two-day project to replace the burned out bulb.
That effort was indeed a valiant endeavor on the part of four people to remove the burned out bulb and insert the new one. The four experts who eventually got the job done before the arrival of winter were me, my brother Dave, Bob Riggin and Bill Crosier.
Let me be the first to assure you that when it comes to small, seemingly insignificant tasks, four minds are certainly better than one.
The fact that it was raining while Dave and I were involved in the project but it had stopped raining before Bob, Bill and I finally resolved the matter added to the confusion, if not to the chorus of “hurrahs” when it concluded.
But I am straying from my point, which is politics. It is well-removed from turn-signal bulbs.
The subject of politics was as far from my active thinking process as was the theory of integers (a fascinating element of mathematics which I never undertook) until the other day when my phone rang.
On the other end was a person regarded as one of the original geniuses in the field of political persuasion and one who is held in awe by all those who take the subject seriously and who yearn to learn a few things at his knee if only he would spare the time to talk a little shop – as in political shop talk.
His name is Dale Butland. That name is immediately linked by anyone in the political know-how with John Glenn.
Dale was the talent behind the Glenn campaigns and the two are still close, even though the former Marine pilot, astronaut and U.S. Senator is now 94 years old.
There is another Senate campaign that Dale is getting excited about, and he wanted to talk about it.
There is a Senate campaign coming up in 2016 ostensibly between the incumbent, Rob Portman, and the man who was governor of Ohio for one term, Ted Strickland, before he was ousted by one of my own personal favorites in government, Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Rob Portman is also one of my favorite people. Dale had guessed as much before he launched into his comments about the man he favors in next year’s Democratic primary.
“I know, Jim, that politically you are slightly to the right of Attila the Hun,” Dale said, “but I just wanted to talk to you about a candidate who will beat Ted Stickland in the primary and who stands a chance against Rob Portman in November.”
After I assured Dale that I always regarded Attila the Hun as a dangerous left winger, and I had no fondness for Strickland because of the unconscionable treatment I got from him when he first ran for governor (it’s a long story), we spent some time chatting about John Glenn.
I told Dale three stories about the ex-astronaut that endeared him to me before we got around to talking about his candidate for the Senate in 2016.
(Those three stories are worth repeating, but not right now.)
His candidate is P.G. Sittenfeld, a member of Cincinnati city council, who is regarded as a bright and rising star in Democratic politics.
Dale spoke glowingly of his candidate. I agreed that everything I had read and heard about him was positive.
Dale added that Strickland doesn’t have a chance in 2016, that no one his age has ever been elected to a first term in the Senate since the popular election of senators became law in 1913.
He said he would like to bring Sittenfeld around. “We’d like to have lunch,” he said.
I agreed that would be a great idea. He could never talk me out of voting for Rob Portman, I said, but sitting down and talking would be a good idea.
I’m a good listener. And who knows? I might end up telling a lot of other people what a great guy P.G. Sittenfeld is.