3 Halloween Notes

Clipart - Cat and Jack-O-Lantern

1–My sister Carol had a costume party in our basement when she was about 16.  Hard to understand why Dad permitted that and why Mom (RN) permitted each guest  be welcomed to a collapsing chair.

One kid, an uppity girl, came in a dress consisting entirely of little black beads which flew  all over the basement when her uppity butt hit the concrete floor. As she was put back on her feet, she wailed, “Oh, you naughty children!”

2–When Joanne and I were married, we set up housekeeping in a third floor apartment in a court building in south Evanston, Illinois.  She got very excited about our first Halloween there–bought lots of candy, devised costumes for both of us, decorated the front door of our apartment. And no one came!

We might have noticed there were few houses in the neighborhood, no kids in the park.   In1956, the black kids who lived across the street had no idea how welcome they would be at our door.

3–Alice loves Halloween and sees usually about 60 kids. They don’t get candy here.  They get to choose from a collection  of little stuffed animals and other toys Alice has won on the arcade at the Circus, Circus casino in Las Vegas.

One year, Alice passed up Halloween at home for a complex trip focused on a total solar eclipse in the South Pacific. I took it on myself to cover hero trick or treat job.

I had a long, gray, hooded robe for my costume. I drew red lines on a pair of examination gloves, and bought a black face mask.  I changed the porch lights to orange.  And I prepared to give away a lot of little pieces of  Vegas junk.

I enjoyed seeing all the kids and chatting with their parents.

Then came the headless butler, about 11 years old, alone except for an adult who tried to go unnoticed. From below the stairs, he said his “trick or treat”.  I pointed at him and said slowly in a gruff voice, “You don’t have a mouth.  You can’t eat candy.”

He said, “Oh yes I can” and started to pull off his costume.  I shouted, “Don’t do that” and took him in to choose a toy.

Alice told me later that I might better have said, “What a wonderful costume! However can you eat candy?”

 

 

 

New Apple Store Kills Birds

 

New Apple store to dim lights at night after group says birds are flying into its glass

Blair Kamin

Blair KaminContact ReporterChicago Tribune  10.30.17 (I like  Blair Kamin and his work on buildings and related matters in the  Trib. He’s written several books, a couple related to Chicago.  RJN)  See note below.

Facing criticism from wildlife groups who say its glassy new Chicago store is causing deadly bird strikes, Apple plans to dim the store’s lights Friday night, a company spokesman said, and will continue to do so during the fall migration season.

Members of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, a volunteer group that rescues migrating birds that collide with buildings, have said they’ve found dead birds at the Apple store since it opened Oct. 20. The group blames the store’s exterior glass walls and night lighting. At night, according to experts, birds often become disoriented by city lights, then crash into buildings and fall to the ground.

(See also article on bird workers with 2 video links in this blog.)

In response to the criticism, Nick Leahy, a spokesman for the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer-maker, said Friday: “Starting tonight, at least until we can get through the migratory season, we will get the lights down as much as can overnight.”

Located at 401 N. Michigan Ave., the store is on the north bank of the Chicago River and not far from the lakefront, a major bird migratory route.

The store’s manager, Leahy said, “acknowledged that there had been bird strikes, but it wasn’t a larger number.”

The city of Chicago has a “Lights Out” program that encourages the owners and managers of high-rises to turn off or dim decorative lights. The Apple store is two stories tall.

A city website describing the “Lights Out” program says: “Thousands of migratory birds are settling to rest in the early morning hours, seeking shelter and food after their long migratory journey. They can collide with lighted glass as they try to enter the space behind it. Research has shown that birds do not see glass.”

London-based Foster + Partners designed the $27 million store, whose facade consists of huge sheets of floor-to-ceiling glass. The firm’s chief designer on the project, Stefan Behling, said the architects had studied the possibility of bird strikes and had concluded that it would not be a problem.

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Blair Kamin is the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune. A graduate of Amherst College and the Yale School of Architecture, he holds honorary degrees from Monmouth University and North Central College, where he serves as an adjunct professor of art. Kamin has lectured widely and has discussed architecture on numerous programs, from ABC’s “Nightline” to NPR’s “All Things Considered.” He is the winner of more than 40 awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, the George Polk Award for Criticism and the American Institute of Architects’ Institute Honor for Collaborative Achievement. He has twice been a Pulitzer Prize juror. Kamin lives in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette with his wife, Chicago Tribune writer Barbara Mahany. They have two sons, Will and Teddy.   Amazon.com 

bkamin@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @BlairKamin

Youth and Age

 

I dedicate this to my children who think I may have lost a step or two on the basketball court.  JC

The old crow is getting slow.
The young crow is not.
Of what the young crow does not know
The old crow knows a lot.

At knowing things the old crow
Is still the young crow’s master.
What does the slow old crow not know?
-How to go faster.

The young crow flies above, below,
And rings around the slow old crow.
What does the fast young crow not know?
-Where to go.

John Ciardi

Ciardi made a book called Limericks Too Gross with Isaac Asimov in which they say that a limerick must be just a little dirty.

For a long time, Ciardi had a 5-minute show  on  National Public Radio about words and meanings.  On one show he explained how his Italian name had evolved from the German Gebhardt–he was descended from the Germans who invaded northern Italy.

RJN

 

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I admire lithe young ladies
(especially their thighs)
striding by my winter window,
seriously postponing age and death                                                                                        or what may be.
And I’m so glad that I’m alive
this day and upstairs there’s
a warm and wise old woman,
seriously postponing me.

RJN

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Youth and Age

by George (Lord) Byron
THERE'S not a joy the world can give like that it takes away 
When the glow of early thought declines in feeling's dull decay; 
'Tis not on youth's smooth cheek the blush alone which fades so fast  
But the tender bloom of heart is gone ere youth itself be past.
 

Then the few whose spirits float above the wreck of happiness  
Are driven o'er the shoals of guilt or ocean of excess: 
The magnet of their course is gone or only points in vain 
The shore to which their shiver'd sail shall never stretch again.
 

Then the mortal coldness of the soul like death itself comes down; 
It cannot feel for others' woes it dare not dream its own;  
That heavy chill has frozen o'er the fountain of our tears  
And though the eye may sparkle still 'tis where the ice appears.
 

Though wit may flash from fluent lips and mirth distract the breast  
Through midnight hours that yield no more their former hope of rest  
'Tis but as ivy-leaves around the ruin'd turret wreathe 15 
All green and wildly fresh without but worn and gray beneath.
 

Oh could I feel as I have felt or be what I have been  
Or weep as I could once have wept o'er many a vanish'd scene  
As springs in deserts found seem sweet all brackish though they be  
So midst the wither'd waste of life those tears would flow to me!

George Lord Byron

 

Where to Give in Disaster Relief

 

Members of the National Guard distributing water and food on Sunday in San Juan, P.R., after Hurricane Maria. CreditCarlos Giusti/Associated Press

First, there was Hurricane Harvey. Then came Irma, Jose and Maria. In between, there were floods, earthquakes and wildfires, too.

In the span of about one month, a large area of the world was hammered by natural disasters, leaving behind death and devastation. The rubble is being cleared, millions are without power, and drinkable water can be hard to find.

With such widespread need, it can be hard to know how to help. Who needs it? What do they need? Which groups can you trust?

The Times published a series of guides with tips on finding local charities and avoiding fraud as readers sought ways to help people in Texas and elsewhere after Hurricane Harvey, then Floridians and others in the path of Hurricane Irma, the victims of the earthquakes in Mexico and, most recently, residents of Puerto Rico and other islands hit by Hurricane Maria. Such lists are, by necessity, incomplete.

“It can be a lot for a donor,” said Katie Rusnock, who leads a team that tracks wrongdoing at Charity Navigator, which grades nonprofits on their financial health and transparency.

But there are ways to guide your thinking, she and others said. Here are a few things to consider as you decide how best to help victims of natural disasters.

Identify your values before donating

When considering how to give, it’s helpful to start by asking what motivates you.

“You pick the issue with your heart and you pick the organization with your head,” said Jacob Harold, the chief executive of GuideStar, a nonprofit that publishes information about charities in an effort to promote transparency.

People with ties to a region may want to give locally. Animal lovers may want to give to a shelter. Others may want their money directed to certain groups of people, like children, or causes, like public health.

Many opt to leave the decision to the charities themselves, which is sometimes best: “If you’re trusting them with your money, you should trust them to spend it well,” Mr. Harold said.

Decide how to spend your time

Your time is a resource, too, and you should decide how you want to spend it.

Some people prefer to deeply research the charities they support, while others simply want to know they’re giving to a trustworthy group.

For those who prefer the latter, Mr. Harold recommends groups like Global Giving, which collects donations and redistributes the funds to vetted, locally focused organizations.

Do your research before you give

Evaluating a charity is often the most daunting part of donating, but it doesn’t have to be.

In addition to GuideStar and Charity Navigator, the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Watch offer helpful resources.

Tax filings and other documents can shed light on a group’s operations, but donors should look beyond the numbers, too, experts said. That includes reviewing an organization’s website, annual report, governing board and mission.

“If the organization is only talking about the problem, but not talking about how the work they do leads to solutions to that problem, that is a red flag,” Mr. Harold said.

Ask questions about the charity, including how much experience it has in disaster relief, how long it’s been around, how it measures accomplishments, and how others in the field talk about it.

He also said that too much focus is often placed on overhead, a measure of administrative and fund-raising costs. While it can signal inefficient spending or, worse, fraud, some overhead is necessary to support a nonprofit’s long-term viability.

Cash is often the best way to help

It may feel impersonal, but money is often the most useful form of donation. Unlike goods, financial gifts have no associated transportation costs.

A $20 pair of jeans, for example, would cost about $165 to ship from Washington, D.C., to the capital of Honduras, according to an online calculator developed by the University of Rhode Island. That money could instead be used locally to buy 24 blankets, nearly 33,000 liters of water or a variety of other supplies, according to the calculator.

There are secondary benefits, too: With cash, relief organizations can support local economies, according to the Center for International Disaster Information, which was created by the United States Agency for International Development.

Follow up later. Recovery takes a long time.

Donations surge in the immediate aftermath of disasters, but recoveries unfold over a much longer timeline.

For that reason, donors should consider sustained involvement with charities, whether that involves checking up on how resources were spent and how needs have changed weeks or months down the line or making automatic monthly contributions.

“Becoming a repeated supporter is super helpful to the organizations,” Ms. Rusnock said.

Exotic Hunting in Texas

When  I said that I’d seen giraffe run along the fence line as I’d made my nearly weekly Harley run from Austin to San Antonio, I wasn’t exaggerating.   Jpnugent
Photo

A giraffe named Buttercup moved closer to Buck Watson, a hunting guide, as he looks on from a vehicle at the Ox Ranch in Uvalde, Tex. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

UVALDE, Tex. — On a ranch at the southwestern edge of the Texas Hill Country, a hunting guide spotted her cooling off in the shade: an African reticulated giraffe. Such is the curious state of modern Texas ranching, that a giraffe among the oak and the mesquite is an everyday sort of thing.

“That’s Buttercup,” said the guide, Buck Watson, 54.

In a place of rare creatures, Buttercup is among the rarest; she is off limits to hunters at the Ox Ranch. Not so the African bongo antelope, one of the world’s heaviest and most striking spiral-horned antelopes, which roams the same countryside as Buttercup. The price to kill a bongo at the Ox Ranch is $35,000.

 

Photo

Water buffaloes walked across a dam at the Ox Ranch. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Himalayan tahrs, wild goats with a bushy lion-style mane, are far cheaper. The trophy fee, or kill fee, to shoot one is $7,500. An Arabian oryx is $9,500; a sitatunga antelope, $12,000; and a black wildebeest, $15,000.

“We don’t hunt giraffes,” Mr. Watson said. “Buttercup will live out her days here, letting people take pictures of her. She can walk around and graze off the trees as if she was in Africa.”

The Ox Ranch near Uvalde, Tex., is not quite a zoo, and not quite an animal shooting range, but something in between.

 

Photo

Mr. Watson points out a Roan on the Ox Ranch. Roan, originally from Africa, never shed their horns, making them attractive trophies for hunters any time of year. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The ranch’s hunting guides and managers walk a thin, controversial line between caring for thousands of rare, threatened and endangered animals and helping to execute them. Some see the ranch as a place for sport and conservation. Some see it as a place for slaughter and hypocrisy.

 

The Ox Ranch provides a glimpse into the future of the mythic Texas range — equal parts exotic game-hunting retreat, upscale outdoor adventure, and breeding and killing ground for exotic species.

Ranchers in the nation’s top cattle-raising state have been transforming pasture land into something out of an African safari, largely to lure trophy hunters who pay top-dollar kill fees to hunt exotics. Zebra mares forage here near African impala antelopes, and it is easy to forget that downtown San Antonio is only two hours to the east.

 

Photo

A worker replaces a light bulb at the Ox Ranch. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The ranch has about 30 bongo, the African antelopes with a trophy fee of $35,000. Last fall, a hunter shot one. “Taking one paid their feed bill for the entire year, for the rest of them,” said Jason Molitor, the chief executive of the Ox Ranch.

To many animal-protection groups, such management of rare and endangered species — breeding some, preventing some from being hunted, while allowing the killing of others — is not only repulsive, but puts hunting ranches in a legal and ethical gray area.

“Depending on what facility it is, there’s concern when animals are raised solely for profit purposes,” said Anna Frostic, a senior attorney with the Humane Society of the United States.

 

Photo

Mr. Watson inspects an Axis buck shot the day before by an 8-year-old boy. Trophy carcasses are hung in a cooler room before being transported from the ranch. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Hunting advocates disagree and say the breeding and hunting of exotic animals helps ensure species’ survival. Exotic-game ranches see themselves not as an enemy of wildlife conservation but as an ally, arguing that they contribute a percentage of their profits to conservation efforts.

“We love the animals, and that’s why we hunt them,” Mr. Molitor said. “Most hunters in general are more in line with conservation than the public believes that they are.”

Beyond the financial contributions, hunting ranches and their supporters say the blending of commerce and conservation helps save species from extinction.

 

Photo

Various bovine species, including Watusi cattle and buffalo, eat from a hay drop at the Ox Ranch.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Wildlife experts said there are more blackbuck antelope in Texas than there are in their native India because of the hunting ranches. In addition, Texas ranchers have in the past sent exotic animals, including scimitar-horned oryx, back to their home countries to build up wild populations there.

“Ranchers can sell these hunts and enjoy the income, while doing good for the species,” said John M. Tomecek, a wildlife specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Animal-rights activists are outraged by these ranches. They call what goes on there “canned hunting” or “captive hunting.’’

 

Photo

To ensure a healthy herd, the Ox Ranch introduces fresh blood lines using animals bred on other ranches. April Molitor watches with her father, Jason Molitor, the chief executive of the Ox Ranch, as newly arrived blackbuck antelope are released from a trailer. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

“Hunting has absolutely nothing to do with conservation,” said Ashley Byrne, the associate director of campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “What they’re doing is trying to put a better spin on a business that they know the average person finds despicable.”

A 2007 report from Texas A&M University called the exotic wildlife industry in America a billion-dollar industry.

At the Ox Ranch, it shows. The ranch has luxury log cabins, a runway for private planes and a 6,000-square-foot lodge with stone fireplaces and vaulted ceilings. More animals roam its 18,000 acres than roam the Houston Zoo, on a tract of land bigger than the island of Manhattan. The ranch is named for its owner, Brent C. Oxley, 34, the founder of HostGator.com, a web hosting provider that was sold in 2012 for more than $200 million.

 

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Three kangaroos that live in front of the Ox Ranch lodge are mainly for attraction purposes and are not hunted. They greet arriving guests and are often fed corn by the newcomers and by guides.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

“The owner hopes in a few years that we can break even,” Mr. Molitor said.

Because the industry is largely unregulated, there is no official census of exotic animals in Texas. But ranchers and wildlife experts said that Texas has more exotics than any other state. A survey by the state Parks and Wildlife Department in 1994 put the exotic population at more than 195,000 animals from 87 species, but the industry has grown explosively since then; one estimate by John T. Baccus, a retired Texas State University biologist, puts the current total at roughly 1.3 million.

 

Photo

A hunting blind stands among trees near a game feeder at the Ox Ranch. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The Ox Ranch needs no local, state or federal permit for most of their exotic animals.

State hunting regulations do not apply to exotics, which can be hunted year-round. The Fish and Wildlife Service allows ranches to hunt and kill certain animals that are federally designated as threatened or endangered species, if the ranches take certain steps, including donating 10 percent of their hunting proceeds to conservation programs. The ranches are issued permits to conduct activities that would otherwise be prohibited under the Endangered Species Act if those activities enhance the survival of the species in the wild. Those federal permits make it legal to hunt Eld’s deerand other threatened or endangered species at the Ox Ranch.

 

Photo

Mr. Watson petted Buttercup the giraffe. Hunters are not allowed to shoot the ranch’s giraffes.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Mr. Molitor said more government oversight was unnecessary and would drive ranchers out of the business. “I ask people, who do you think is going to manage it better, private organizations or the government?” Mr. Molitor said.

Lawyers for conservation and animal-protection groups say that allowing endangered animals to be hunted undermines the Endangered Species Act, and that the ranches’ financial contributions fail to benefit wildlife conservation.

“We ended up with this sort of pay-to-play idea,” said Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is absolutely absurd that you can go to a canned-hunt facility and kill an endangered or threatened species.”

 

Photo

Wildebeest run free on the Ox Ranch’s rangeland. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The creatures are not the only things at the ranch that are exotic. The tanks are, too.

The ranch offers its guests the opportunity to drive and shoot World War II-era tanks. People fire at bullet-ridden cars from atop an American M4 Sherman tank at a shooting range built to resemble a Nazi-occupied French town.

“We knew the gun people would come out,” said Todd DeGidio, the chief executive of DriveTanks.com, which runs the tank operation. “What surprised us was the demographic of people who’ve never shot guns before.”

 

Photo

A World War II-era M4 Sherman tank. The ranch also has a shooting range built to resemble a Nazi-occupied French town. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Late one evening, two hunters, Joan Schaan and her 15-year-old son, Daniel, rushed to get ready for a nighttime hunt, adjusting the SWAT-style night-vision goggles on their heads.

Ms. Schaan is the executive director of a private foundation in Houston. Daniel is a sophomore at St. John’s School, a prestigious private school. They were there not for the exotics, but basically for the pests: feral hogs, which cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage annually in Texas.

“We are here because we both like to hunt, and we like hunting hogs,” Ms. Schaan said. “And we love the meat and the sausage from the hogs we harvest.”

 

Photo

Joan Schaan takes a photo of her son Daniel Schaan, 15, as he prepares for a night boar hunt.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Pursuing the hogs, Ms. Schaan and her son go off-roading through the brush in near-total darkness, with a hunting guide behind the wheel. Aided by their night-vision goggles, they passed by the giraffes before rattling up and down the hilly terrain.

Daniel fired at hogs from the passenger seat with a SIG Sauer 516 rifle, his spent shell casings flying into the back seat. Their guide, Larry Hromadka, told Daniel when he could and could not take a shot.

No one is allowed to hunt at the ranch without a guide. The guides make sure no one shoots an exotic animal accidentally with a stray bullet, and that no one takes aim at an off-limits creature.

One of the hogs Daniel shot twitched and appeared to still be alive, until Mr. Hromadka approached with his light and his gun.

 

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Larry Hromadka, a hunting guide, fires his pistol to end the suffering of a feral hog shot and wounded during a night boar hunt. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Hundreds of animals shot at the ranch have ended up in the cluttered workrooms and showrooms at Graves Taxidermy in Uvalde.

Part of the allure of exotic game-hunting is the so-called trophy at the end — the mounted and lifelike head of the animal that the hunter put down. The Ox Ranch is Graves Taxidermy’s biggest customer.

“My main business, of course, is white-tailed deer, but the exotics have kind of taken over,” said Browder Graves, the owner.

Photo

Many trophy carcasses from the Ox Ranch are taken to Graves Taxidermy in Uvalde for mounting. Meg Rowland, a newly hired assistant, works on a customer order in the workshop.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

He said the animal mounts he makes for people were not so much a trophy on a wall as a symbol of the hunter’s memories of the entire experience. He has a mount of a Himalayan tahr he shot in New Zealand that he said he cannot look at without thinking of the time he spent with his son hunting up in the mountains.

“It’s God’s creature,” he said. “I’m trying to make it look as good as it can.”

 

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White stags and white elk graze on the ranch at sunset. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Small herds passed by the Jeep being driven by Mr. Watson, the hunting guide. There were white elk and eland, impala and Arabian oryx.

Then the tour came to an unexpected stop. An Asiatic water buffalo blocked the road, unimpressed by the Jeep. The animal was caked with dried mud, an aging male that lived away from the herd.

“The Africans call them dugaboys,” Mr. Watson said. “They’re old lone bulls. They’re so big that they don’t care.”

The buffalo took his time moving. For a moment, at least, he had all the power.

 

Photo

An ostrich and grazing fallow deer are illuminated by the headlights of a ranch vehicle.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times
Correction: October 19, 2017 
A photo caption with an earlier version of this article misidentified the animals walking across a dam at the Ox Ranch. They are water buffaloes, not zebus.

 

 

Danger at the Ballpark

 

 

Image result for photo speeding baseball

Pitchers are throwing the ball 90 – 100 miles per hour now. A 90-mph fastball can leave the bat at 110 mph. source

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Anyone who pays some attention to baseball knows that it’s dangerous to get near a game.  That’s why batters wear helmets and pads.  And it’s one reason spectators pay attention to every pitch and protect themselves. Also they want the ball. Also the sharp pieces of broken bats fly into the crowd.

While I was driving past Louisville once, I heard on the radio a man from the Louisville Slugger company who said major league players use 80 bats in a season.

These dangers are greatest in the lower, very expensive seats, though we’ve seen  foul balls come toward us on the upper deck.

I feel sorry for anyone hurt anywhere, maybe especially kids; but I feel no support for lawsuits demanding damages from the team owners.

Why do people take small children and even infants into an area swarming with people, then into a park with 40,000 people, some drinking beer and/or margaritas, busy with hot dogs, tacos, and nachos ?  My authoritative belief  is that most kids under 9 or 10 can’t or don’t want to focus on the process of the game or to be alert to dangers of various kinds, including  hygiene in the busy washrooms.  Is that changing table clean?  The kids can learn the game from television as well or better than in the park.  Always with parental help, of course.

When a hot line drive heads into the stands, will you always see it coming?  You’d better.

You can’t expect to collect on an injury that is your own damn fault.

_______________________________________________________

From the Trib:

Spectators hurt by baseballs face long odds in court
State law shields teams from litigation

By Steve Schmadeke and Elvia Malagon,  Chicago Tribune 10.14.17
Juanita DeJesus never saw the ball coming.
DeJesus was sitting along the first base line at a 2009 minor-league baseball game in Gary when an infield fly struck her in the face just as she looked up to spot the ball. The impact broke several bones in her face and resulted in permanent blindness in her left eye.
Her injuries were strikingly similar to those recently suffered by John “Jay” Loos, a Schaumburg man who filed a negligence lawsuit against the Chicago Cubs this week after also being blinded in his left eye when he was hit by a foul ball while sitting in a seat down the first base line in the outfield at Wrigley Field in late August.
“I had no idea that you were subjected to such missiles and the rate of speed that a ball can come into the stands,” Loos, 60, told reporters Monday. “In the stands, you know, you are sitting behind the plate, you can’t tell when the ball is contacted, you can’t tell where the ball is going, you can’t tell the rate of speed it’s going until it’s on top of you.”
But like DeJesus, whose lawsuit was dismissed outright by the Indiana Supreme Court in 2014, Loos faces long odds of winning in court.
Not only have judges across the country thrown out such lawsuits, but Illinois is one of four states where the legislature enshrined into law the so-called Baseball Rule, which absolves stadium owners of liability so long as an adequate number of seats — largely in the area looking onto home plate — are behind protective netting. Fans who sit elsewhere are presumed to have willingly assumed the risk of being hit by a ball or bat, according to the rule, which is now more than a century old.
The debate over increased safety — versus fans enjoying unobstructed views and the chance to catch a souvenir foul ball — was reignited in September when a little girl was hit by a rocketing foul ball at Yankee Stadium, prompting Major League Baseball’s commissioner, Rob Manfred, to say the league is looking again at extending protective netting.
“The events at yesterday’s game involving a young girl were extremely upsetting for everyone in our game,” Manfred said in a statement, adding: “We will redouble our efforts on this important issue.”
In 2015, the league issued recommendations that ballparks have protective netting between the dugouts for any field-level seats within 70 feet of home plate. Those recommendations prompted the Cubs to extend the netting out that distance at Wrigley Field before the 2016 season, a Cubs spokesman has said.
The team’s president of business operations, Crane Kenney, told WSCR-AM 670 The Score last month that the Cubs would add at least 30 more feet of netting before next season as Wrigley Field renovations move the dugouts farther down the foul lines. Last year the White Sox also extended netting at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Beyond the Baseball Rule, legal obstacles include difficulty proving that spectator injuries are so commonplace that the courts should intervene. Last year, a federal judge in California threw out a class-action lawsuit against MLB filed by two fans who argued protective netting should be strung up along the entire length of the foul lines at all stadiums. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to show they and any other fans faced enough risk of injury to give them legal standing to sue.
In Loos’ case, his attorney argues there are two exceptions in the law that could allow them to win the lawsuit. He hopes to convince a judge that the MLB isn’t covered by Illinois’ stadium owner liability law and that the Cubs’ conduct in failing to install netting was reckless — both high hurdles. Another injured fan who alleged the Cubs recklessly removed netting behind home plate in 1992 to make way for skyboxes saw his case dismissed, records show.
“It’s obvious that the Cubs have known people are being seriously injured — it’s happened there before,” said Loos’ attorney, Colin Dunn. “It’s at least going to be a jury question as to whether this was willful and wanton conduct.”
But Dunn indicated the case may get settled. “I got a feeling that they want to talk to us,” he said of the Cubs, whom he reached out to before filing suit. “They do care about their fans. I’m hopeful that they’ll do the right thing.”
A Cubs spokesman declined to comment but directed a reporter to the statement issued by the team Monday that said “the safety of our fans is paramount to a great game day experience.”
It’s not publicly known whether these types of injuries are on the rise, though the class-action lawsuit alleged that they likely were, as pitching speeds go up and batted balls travel faster. A 2003 study found that about 35 fans were injured by foul balls per 1 million spectator visits to major league stadiums.
The risks of being hit by an errant ball or broken bat are low, according to lawsuits filed against other major league teams over injuries. But the injuries they cause can be catastrophic, especially to children.
A 7-year-old Cubs fan attending his first baseball game at Wrigley Field in 2008 was left with a fractured skull and swelling around his brain after being hit in the head by a line drive, the Tribune reported. There are no records indicating the family ever filed a lawsuit.
The Atlanta Braves reportedly settled a lawsuit recently filed by the father of a 6-year-old girl whose skull was fractured by a line drive in 2010.
But in an aside in her ruling to toss a California class-action lawsuit, the judge questioned why the league hadn’t done more to mitigate the danger to its youngest fans.
“Why Major League Baseball, knowing of the risk to children in particular, does little to highlight this risk to parents remains a mystery,” wrote Oakland U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in her ruling throwing out the class-action lawsuit over protective netting.
In 2014 a Bloomberg Businessweek report found that about 1,750 spectators are injured annually by baseballs that fly into the stands. Around 73 million people attend major league games each year.
Spokespeople for the Cubs and White Sox declined to provide figures on how many fans are similarly injured each year.
Figures unearthed in the class-action lawsuit show that during the 2015 season at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles an average of about two people were hurt by foul balls per game out of the 46,000 on average in attendance. In Seattle, about 300 people attending Mariners games were injured by errant baseballs out of the 10 million who attended games between 2005 and 2009, according to an appeals court ruling upholding the dismissal of another fan injury case.
This week, the Chicago City Council passed a toothless resolution calling for the city’s major league teams to surpass MLB’s minimum standards for protective netting and instead “lead the league.” The resolution also asks the teams to “reconsider” the Baseball Rule that transfers liability for spectator injuries to fans who sit in unprotected areas.
In the early 1990s, two rare legal victories for spectators injured while attending separate Cubs and White Sox games may have been the impetus for an Illinois law that now protects stadium owners from similar suits.
Delbert Yates Jr., a fourth-grader, was sitting behind Wrigley Field’s home plate in 1983 when he was struck under his right eye by a Leon Durham pop-up seconds after betting his sister whether Durham would get a hit, court records show. His attorneys at trial presented evidence that the screen behind home base was inadequate, and the family won a $67,500 jury verdict.
A state appeals court upheld the verdict in 1992. That same year, another appellate panel reinstated a lawsuit filed by a woman whose jaw was broken at a White Sox game when she looked up from her popcorn and was struck in the face by a foul ball, finding that the issue of whether the Sox had provided proper warning of her injury risks was a trial issue.
Just six months later, state lawmakers stepped in and passed the Baseball Facility Liability Act, shielding stadium owners from most lawsuits by turning the Baseball Rule into state law. James Jasper, who was struck by a foul ball at a Cubs game, filed a lawsuit over his injury and argued the new law was an unconstitutional handout to stadium owners. But in 1999 an appellate court upheld the law and the lower-court dismissal of Jasper’s lawsuit, essentially ending the legal issue in Illinois.
Outside of Wrigley Field during a recent scheduled playoff game, many fans sided with the Cubs organization on the issue of fan injuries. Among them was Naomi Rodriguez, 56, of Wrigleyville, who said spectators must pay attention to flying balls and bats.
“When you walk in the park, you have to know that this can happen,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just what happens, but I love my Cubbies. I back them up 100 percent.”
Others welcomed more protective netting at Wrigley Field. Mike Ford, 46, of Crown Point, said he believes fans are assuming the risk of being injured by sitting in areas where foul balls typically land. Standing outside of Wrigley Field with his 11-year-old son, Ford said the risk of being hit with one of the balls is one of the reasons why he buys seats in the terrace reserved outfield area.
He would like to see the spectator netting extended at the ballpark, which would expand his seating options.
“I’d be willing to go down to that section if I had the opportunity to,” he said.
sschmadeke@chicagotribune.com
emalagon@chicagotribune.com
Twitter @steveschmadeke
Twitter @elviamalagon

Subway Riders Save Life

Chad M. Estep is accused of pushing a man onto tracks. (Chicago Police Department)

Megan Crepeau, Katherine Rosenberg- Douglas, Jeremy Gorner Chicago Tribune 10.11.17

The attack at a Loop CTA station was the stuff of public-transit nightmares: a man waiting on a train platform eyed a nearby stranger, came up behind him and shoved him onto the tracks below.
The assailant tried to block the victim from climbing back onto the platform, but seconds before a train pulled up to the station, he managed to scramble to safety with the help of others.

. . . .

Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Antonietti said Estep came up behind Benedict and shoved him onto the tracks with both hands, knocking him perilously close to the electrified third rail.
Estep then tried to block Benedict from getting back onto the platform — and even tried to stop others at the station from assisting Benedict, she said.
Benedict finally climbed to safety just seconds before a train arrived, Antonietti said, while Estep escaped on foot.

. . .
In September, Benedict said he was standing near the edge of the platform when he felt a hard jab to the back and tumbled to the tracks 5 feet below. He said he stopped a foot short of the electrified third rail.
He looked down the tracks but didn’t see a train approaching. He then looked up and saw the man who apparently had pushed him staring at Benedict with a blank look on his face.
“It was like a lion looking at his prey, that’s kinda what it looked like to me,” he said.
Benedict tried to get onto the platform, he said, but the man kept blocking his way, pointing his finger at him. When Benedict yelled for help and people tried to come to his aid, the man tried to keep them away until they were able to form a circle and help Benedict off the tracks.

mcrepeau@chicagotribune.com
kdouglas@chicagotribune.com
jgorner@chicagotribune.com

More Kindness

When Susan and I had arrived in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, for my sister Carol’s funeral, she remarked on the courtesies we had received en route, she with her arm in a sling and  I with my cane, but the best was ahead.

After we checked into the Hilton Garden, I went back to  the parking lot to get my bag.  I found our rental car by opening the trunk with the button on my key.  I reached in, grabbed my bag and yanked it out.  The bag came easily, but it was heavy and took me to the concrete with it.

(One of the problems for old guys in taking a fall is that it’s impossible to get up without something pull on.  I don’t know now where my cane was.)

I lay there wondering what to do, until a small woman showed up and grasped my arm.  She wasn’t strong enough to get me off my butt, so she called for her husband who came behind me and put his arms around my chest.  He was no bigger than the woman, but together they got me on my feet. By that time their daughter had showed up, a head taller than her parents.  By their appearance and speech, I took them to be Japanese.

We were all smiling as I thanked them.  It was fun to see them at breakfast next morning.  We all smiled some more.

RJN

Leaning Tower Bells in Niles

 

 

The Leaning Tower of Pisa SB.jpeg    Leaning Tower of Pisa  Wikipedia

 

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Leaning Tower bells in Niles, Illinois are survivors.  Some might be among oldest in U.S.
Construction of the Leaning Tower of Niles, Illinois,  a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. was begun in 1932. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune ) This bell, one of five located inside the Leaning Tower of Niles, is believed to date to 18th-century Italy. (Chicago Bell Advocates photo)
By Jennifer Johnson Pioneer Press, Chicago Tribune, `10.11.17

Image result for leaning tower of lincolnwood photo  Leaning Tower of Niles
High inside the iconic Leaning Tower of Niles are remnants of another time and place.
Five bronze bells, three bearing religious motifs and Latin inscriptions, wait to ring again. The writing on the Latin-inscribed bells suggests their ages.
One dates back nearly 400 years.
If their ages can indeed be proved, they could very well be among the oldest church bells hanging in the United States — and the rarest, according to Kim Schafer, founder of Chicago Bell Advocates, an organization dedicated to helping owners of tower bells restore and maintain them.
“If you go to Mexico, which was a colony of Spain dating back much longer and had a strong Catholic tradition, you will find bells as old or even older. But in the United States, it’s much rarer,” Schafer said.
But where did they come from? And how did they get to Niles?
Schafer and her organization are helping to unravel the origins of the bells as the village of Niles continues its renovation of the Leaning Tower, a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which has stood along Touhy Avenue since the 1930s.
Niles Mayor Andrew Przybylo said restoring the bells so they can ring once again is a goal.
“Maybe by adding one or two more we could create enough tones, enough notes to chime out some music,” he said. “If we do a celebration at the base for some holiday, maybe there’s a way to chime out some music.”
According to the book “The History of Niles, Illinois,” written by Dorothy C. Tyse and published in 1974 to mark the village’s 75th anniversary, construction of the 94-foot-tall Leaning Tower of Niles began in 1932 and was undertaken by businessman Robert Ilg as a way to conceal a water tank that supplied spring water for two outdoor pools on the site.
When the tower was completed two years later, Ilg “dedicated it to the memory of Galileo,” who demonstrated that objects of different weights fall at the same speed when he dropped various items from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Tyse’s book said.
At the time, the property on which the tower stood was a park for employees of Ilg’s electric ventilating company. Later, Ilg would leave the tower — and the land surrounding it — to the YMCA, with the stipulation that it remain standing until 2059 and an average of $500 be spent on maintenance annually, the Chicago Tribune reported.
This summer, the village of Niles took over ownership of the tower after years of leasing it from the Leaning Tower YMCA and paying to maintain it, said Przybylo. The cost of the purchase was $10.
Following previous studies that determined extensive repairs to the tower were required, the village began rehabilitation work. So far, approximately $750,000 worth of repair and restoration of the tower’s exterior has been completed, said Mary Anderson, director of public works for the village of Niles. This work does not include restoration of the bells or replacing existing railings around the tower’s exterior, she said.
It was the potential historic nature of the bells that came to light during the tower renovations, said Bernie DiMeo, spokesman for the Leaning Tower rehabilitation project.
Przybylo said little had been said about the bells during his political career with the village, which dates back nearly 30 years.
“I don’t remember anybody highlighting the bells,” he said. “They were a treasure we didn’t know we had.”
A report from Chicago Bell Advocates, completed at the request of the village of Niles, found that three bells, dated 1623, 1735 and 1747, were each cast in Italy, and that at least one of them likely hung in a church in Cavezzo, a town about 150 miles northeast from Pisa.
“Chicago Bell Advocates has no reason to doubt at this time that the three Italian bells are authentic and date from the 17th and 18th centuries,” the report reads.
Each bell features Catholic imagery: A crucifix. Madonna and child. Faces of cherubs. A grape vine. The oldest bell is inscribed, in Latin, with a line from a Catholic prayer in devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus: “Ave, Maria, full of grace, the Lord be with you.”
A fourth bell, according to the report, is dated 1912, and appears to have been created at a foundry in San Francisco. It bears a leaf pattern and an inscription in Italian that includes the word “Vespruccio,” which, according to the research report, is the name of one of the bells in the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Robert Ilg lived in San Francisco as a young man, according to “The History of Niles, Illinois.”
The fifth bell in the tower is undated and cracked, though it can be repaired to ring again, the report says.
Since the report was compiled, Chicago Bell Advocates spoke with a researcher in Cavezzo, Italy, who found that church bells in Cavezzo were sold to a foundry in Milan in the 1930s in order to be recast for new bells, Schafer said. That was right around the time the Leaning Tower’s bells arrived in Niles, so Schafer believes it is entirely possible that instead of recasting, the bells were sold — and are as old as their dates say.
“I think they just sold them to Ilg or some middle man who then sold them to Ilg,” Schafer said.
But details of the acquisition to confirm Schafer’s theory have not yet been found.
“We have been trying to uncover that story, and it’s unclear how the connection was made between Robert Ilg and this foundry,” Schafer said. “That’s a mystery we will hopefully one day be able to uncover.”
Chicago Bell Advocates also recovered written correspondence between a Cavezzo church and the foundry, but they require translation, Schafer said.
While a process called a metallurgical analysis can help “narrow down the ages of the bells,” the method is not foolproof, Schafer said. The Chicago Bell Advocates report indicates that there are several opportunities for additional research, including searching records of the United States Customs Service, which can found in the National Archives, and conducting research within the community of Cavezzo.
Chicago Bell Advocates has not been contracted for additional studies at this time, and the organization is currently advising the village on how to remount the bells and get them ringing again, as they are not currently operational, Schafer said.
It is unclear when the bells last sounded, but newspaper reports from the last several decades seem to indicate that hearing the bells was not a common event.
In October 1958, the Chicago Tribune reported that the bells rang for the first time in 15 years to celebrate $54,000 raised by YMCA workers for renovation work inside the tower and construction of an athletic field, ice skating rink and camping area on the grounds, which was the headquarters of the Skokie Valley YMCA.
In November 1963, special note was made of the ringing of the bells when ground was broken for new YMCA facilities, including the construction of residential accommodations, which still exist, the Tribune reported.
Anderson, the village’s public works director, said she has heard the sounds of the functioning bells, describing them as having a “decent tone.”
“We were really excited when Chicago Bell Advocates started working on this for us,” she said. “It’s a very cool piece of history in Niles.”
Once the current tower renovation is complete, it will be available for visitors to explore, Przybylo indicated.
“The plan is to clean it up, turn (the first floor)] into a visiting center where people can be told the story of the tower and bells before they proceed up the stairs,” Przybylo said.
He added that the hope is to allow groups to climb the tower by next spring or summer, with a goal of the tower securing a place on the National Registry of Historic Places.
“It’s part of our brand,” Przybylo said of the Leaning Tower. “Our brand and our village logo is the Leaning Tower. A lot of people know about it.”
jjohnson@pioneerlocal.com
Twitter @Jen_Tribune

Super Volcano under Yellowstone

Photo

The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, a large hot spring known for its vibrant coloration. Beneath the park is a powerful supervolcano which drives the spring and other geological activity. CreditMarie-Louise Mandl/EyeEm, via Getty Images

Beneath Yellowstone National Park lies a supervolcano, a behemoth far more powerful than your average volcano. It has the ability to expel more than 1,000 cubic kilometers of rock and ash at once — 250,000 times more material than erupted from Mount St. Helens in 1980, which killed 57 people. That could blanket most of the United States in a thick layer of ash and even plunge the Earth into a volcanic winter.

Yellowstone’s last supereruption occurred 631,000 years ago. And it’s not the planet’s only buried supervolcano. Scientists suspect that a supereruption scars the planet every 100,000 years, causing many to ask when we can next expect such an explosive planet-changing event.

To answer that question, scientists are seeking lessons from Yellowstone’s past. And the results have been surprising. They show that the forces that drive these rare and violent events can move much more rapidly than volcanologists previously anticipated.

The early evidence, presented at a recent volcanology conference, shows that Yellowstone’s most recent supereruption was sparked when new magma moved into the system only decades before the eruption. Previous estimates assumed that the geological process that led to the event took millenniums to occur.

To reach that conclusion, Hannah Shamloo, a graduate student at Arizona State University, and her colleagues spent weeks at Yellowstone’s Lava Creek Tuff — a fossilized ash deposit from its last supereruption. There, they hauled rocks under the heat of the sun to gather samples, occasionally suspending their work when a bison or a bear roamed nearby.

Ms. Shamloo later analyzed trace crystals in the volcanic leftovers, allowing her to pin down changes before the supervolcano’s eruption. Each crystal once resided within the vast, seething ocean of magma deep underground. As the crystals grew outward, layer upon layer, they recorded changes in temperature, pressure and water content beneath the volcano, much like a set of tree rings.

“We expected that there might be processes happening over thousands of years preceding the eruption,” said Christy Till, a geologist at Arizona State, and Ms. Shamloo’s dissertation adviser. Instead, the outer rims of the crystals revealed a clear uptick in temperature and a change in composition that occurred on a rapid time scale. That could mean the supereruption transpired only decades after an injection of fresh magma beneath the volcano.We’ll bring you stories that capture the wonders of the human body, nature and the cosmos.

“It’s shocking how little time is required to take a volcanic system from being quiet and sitting there to the edge of an eruption,” said Ms. Shamloo, though she warned that there’s more work to do before scientists can verify a precise time scale.

Dr. Kari Cooper, a geochemist at the University of California, Davis who was not involved in the research, said Ms. Shamloo and Dr. Till’s research offered more insights into the time frames of supereruptions, although she is not yet convinced that scientists can pin down the precise trigger of the last Yellowstone event. Geologists must now figure out what kick-starts the rapid movements leading up to supereruptions.

“It’s one thing to think about this slow gradual buildup — it’s another thing to think about how you mobilize 1,000 cubic kilometers of magma in a decade,” she said.

As the research advances, scientists hope they will be able to spot future supereruptions in the making. The odds of Yellowstone, or any other supervolcano erupting anytime soon are small. But understanding the largest eruptions can only help scientists better understand, and therefore forecast, the entire spectrum of volcanic eruptions — something that Dr. Cooper thinks will be possible in a matter of decades.