Today was Johann Sebastian Bach’s 325 birthday, or would have been if he’d lasted to 325 years old. The Sandusky Ohio chapter of the American Guild of Organists held a little show in honor of the event. Several local organists provided some music in a series of churches across the town. Being a fan of Bach, pipe organs, and Bach played on pipe organs, I decided to take a listen.

Although Sandusky did boast one stop on a recent northern Ohio tour of the international Organ Historical Society (of whom I was a member, for a day), the 3 churches that me and about 100 fellow tour-mates enjoyed were not on that particular list. These were not world-class instruments, nor the organists national stars. However, they put on a good show, for the most part.

Honestly, being very  picky about Bach performances (especially on the organ), I almost didn’t make it to the second venue. At one point, I remember gazing at the well-suited old man sitting patiently a row in front of me, his wispy white hair no longer able to hide the hearing aid firmly embedded in his skull. I remember envying him in the knowledge that his ears had an off-switch. (more…)


This is my wife’s niece, Rhea. Today, she leaves her home in the Philippines that she shares with her parents, for a job in Saudi Arabia. Many Filipino’s make this trip every year. But, this doesn’t make the trip any less dangerous. Along with her travel documents and assignment information, she’ll also be issued one other mandatory article for her job. A burka. This is real, now. And, I’m worried for her.

She’s travelling to a state where women already have fewer rights than men. Though not exactly taliban-country, it still imposes many restrictions that we in the west would find incomprehensible. On top of that, she’ll be a foreigner without rights, in a land that doesn’t speak her language, with no friends to help, and nowhere to run if something bad happens. She’s pretty, young, and totally alone. You can do the math. All this, for a few dollars more than what she currently makes as a nursing assistant.

Her mom thinks this is a bad idea.

My wife thinks this is a bad idea.

I know this is a bad idea.

I’ve seen the travel shows. I understand that Saudi Arabia isn’t as fundamentalist as other countries, and it doesn’t have a history of grinding it’s foreign workers into the ground like, say, Qatar or Dubai. But, Saudi history with foreign workers is still very grim, and reports of abuse are rampant. Also, she’s traveling to a Muslim country during the greatest wave of fundamentalist Islam in decades. And, has no way out once there.

I hope this will end as an adventure, and not a mistake. I hope she finds many new friends and her new work profitable. And most of all, I hope to see her safely back home again. Safe travels, Rhea.

Saudi Arabia photo courtesy of


This isn’t a master’s thesis. Not even an essay for an anthropology magazine. This was just a minor project I undertook to save an entire culture. A day’s research and writing snowballed into something much more.


The Organ Historical Society (OHS) and American Theater Organ Society had their annual conventions in Cleveland, Ohio this year. Michael Barone of the “Pipedreams” radio program hosted both. Each annual convention is a week-long event in a different city each year, featuring recitals by famous organists in multiple venues across the area. Being a longtime Pipedreams fan and a resident of the Cleveland area, I assumed I probably never have this chance again. I decided to tag-along for the last day of the celebration. (more…)


Here’s a little tidbit for those bikers fighting helmet laws in your area. I don’t know if it helps, but it’s interesting.

Read this…

If you don’t speak Visyian-Cebuano, I’ll give you the basics in a nutshell. The mayor of a large town in the Philippines has outlawed the wearing motorcycle helmets while operating a motorcycle.

You don’t see that very much.

Apparently, the prevalence of armed thefts by people wearing helmets prompted this move. No one has been able to identify the thieves because they all wear motorcycle helmets. So now, no one in Mandaue City can wear one. The original intent was to outlaw all but shorty and visorless open-face style helmets, but the loosely-worded ordinance is having a much broader effect.

How would you like to live somewhere where you could ride and not wear a helmet, but also have it be illegal to use one?

To whom it may concern…. a little show.


Dick Durkin is former parade float builder with a submission to the Rose Bowl parade on his resume. Dick hauled-out the tools once again to build the Bicentennial celebration float for the tiny city of Huron, Ohio. Starting with a decommissioned full-size school bus, a massive 40′ replica of a cargo ship emerged, complete with a rotating Bicentennial birthday cake (not real icing) and a mini-lighthouse on a beach.

5 months of tear-down and prefabrication allowed Durkin to move the vehicle from his garage in Mansfield to the Huron City municipal service garage for final assembly. There, he and a small crew of volunteers took the project from bare frame to finished in just over a month.

Nice work, Mr Dukin. Nice work, all around. (more…)

Recently, my wife took a trip to Asia (without me).  She planned to take her parents on a short flight to the northern part of the Philippines to do some sightseeing. I purchased tickets online for everyone before she left, but I discovered from the airline’s website that she needed a way of proving to the flight crew that she was allowed to use those tickets .

Eh? (more…)

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