Humans did their part to make 2015 another goofy year

Snow, Ohio
Snow for sale.

By Bruce Stambaugh

The main headlines of this tumultuous year may have overshadowed some lesser but still noteworthy news. Here are a few I logged.

January 2 – A North Walsham, England man paid a veterinarian the equivalent of $460 U.S. to do surgery on his three-inch pet goldfish.

January 24 – The leader of a pack of Boy Scouts, ages nine and 10 on a nature hike, accidentally led his troop onto a beach of nude sunbathers near San Diego, California.

February 10 – The European Space Agency reported that the Hubble telescope spotted a galaxy that resembled a smiley face.

duck in swimming pool
Obeying pool rules.
February 24 – Kyle Waring of Manchester-by-the-sea, Massachusetts, who began selling snow from his yard, 6 pounds for $89, said he would continue doing so until people stop ordering.

March 7 – An Amish farmer in Sadsbury Township, Pennsylvania accepted a $597,000 state agricultural grant to stave runoff from what one official described as his “barnyard mud hole.”

March 10 – The Utah State Legislature reinstituted the firing squad as a means to carry out the death penalty.

April 1 – The world’s oldest person, 117-year-old Misao Okawa, died in Tokyo.

April 6 – The world’s oldest person, 116-year-old Gertrude Weaver, died in Camden, Arkansas.

bank sign, Pennsylvania Dutch sign
Money anyone?
May 2 – A 22-year-old Eastlake, Ohio woman shot a squirrel with a bow and arrow, telling police she killed the animal for dinner.

May 29 – A 17-year old Ann Arbor, Michigan teen stole a new car from a dealership by posing as an FBI agent, and was arrested when he crashed the car in Toledo.

June 16 – The typical American family throws out $1,600 worth of food every year, according to a news report.

June 25 – An updated U.S. Census report showed that the fastest growing age group in Ohio was the 85-years-old and older population.

July 14 – The last of a giant snow pile created by Boston city workers removing snow during the winter finally melted.

July 21 – Nigel Richards, the winner of the French Scrabble contest, couldn’t speak French.

August 8 – A 16-year old girl vacationing in the German Alps found a gold bar worth $17,900 at the bottom of a lake.

August 11 – For the first time in Major League Baseball history, all 15 home teams won their game.

Amish buggy, Holmes Co. OH
Holmes Co., Ohio.
September 3 – A report showed Americans used 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, and only 23 percent of them were recycled.

September 21 – A nine-year-old boy was injured when his mother jumped out of her moving car because a spider was on her shoulder, and the car crashed into a school bus.

October 14 – A report from The Chronicle of Philanthropy showed that Holmes Co. was the most generous county in Ohio in 2012 with a giving ratio of nearly six percent.

October 21 – A three-year-old Oklahoma City, Oklahoma boy took the wheel of a pickup truck and steered it safely across four lanes of traffic after his drunken mother fell out of the vehicle.

November 27 – A Georgia man standing behind a target at a shooting range in St. Augustine, Florida was accidently shot by his brother.

November 28 – Sorters at a Goodwill store in Winfield, Kansas found a live grenade among a large pile of donations.

December 3 – Seattle police arrested a 73-year old man for snorting cocaine during a routine traffic stop.

December 10 – Hazmat crews in Yarmouth, Maine responded to a suspicious liquid leaking from a tank truck and discovered the substance to be milk.

Hopefully, 2015 was a good year for you and yours. Let’s hope that 2016 will be a “sweet 16” year for all of God’s global children.

Cleveland Indians, Progressive Field
Even the Indians won.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2015

Another year, another round of human folly

Amish buggy, rural road, Holmes County Ohio
Down the rural road. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Each year I record some of the more arcane, inane, and maybe even insane happenings that tend to escape headlines. Here are a few of the highs and lows of human endeavor from 2014.

Jan. 9 – An off-duty Houston, Texas firefighter extinguished a fire in an 18-wheeler by using the truck’s cargo, cans of beer.

Jan. 31 – Sparked by static electricity, methane gas from a herd of dairy cows in Rasdorf, Germany exploded, nearly blowing the roof off the barn.

Feb. 22 – Released state records showed that a Spirit Lake, Iowa man was fired and lost his unemployment benefits because he used a forklift to retrieve a candy bar from a malfunctioning vending machine.

March 19 – Greentown, Ohio, volunteer firefighter Justin Deierling proposed to his girlfriend, Megan Zahorec, an elementary teacher, during a scheduled fire drill at her school.

March 24 – Former TV Judge Joe Brown was arrested in Memphis, Tennessee for contempt of court.

April 16 – A three-year-old toddler was reunited with his mother after he was found playing with toys in a claw machine in a bowling alley across the street from his home in Lincoln, Nebraska.

May 5- A Loveland, Ohio man, whose job was to collect coins from parking meters, pleaded guilty to stealing $20,000 in quarters over eight years.

May 15 – The University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio announced that it was replacing 75 percent of its lawn because a weed killer had accidently been used instead of a fertilizer on 54 of the campus’ 72 acres.

June 4 – While participating in a drill about what to do if a gorilla escaped, a Spanish zoo worker dressed in a gorilla suit was shot with a tranquilizer gun by a veterinarian, who didn’t know about the exercise.

July 9 – An 80-year-old American agave plant acquired and housed in the botanical garden at the University of Michigan since 1934 finally bloomed.

July 26 – The Colorado Rockies baseball team gave away 15,000 replica jerseys of All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki with his last name misspelled.

August 25 – A masked gunman robbed three people riding in a horse-drawn buggy in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

August 31 – Leandra Beccera Lumbreras of Mexico turned 127, the oldest living person in the world.

West Virginia, ginseng hunting,
Ginsing country. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

September 1 – Ginseng season started in West Virginia with the herb expected to bring more than $700 per pound.

September 15 – To celebrate the anniversary of the Suez Canal, Egypt published a commemorative stamp, only to realize that the canal pictured was the Panama Canal.

October 8 – A study released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development rated Mississippi as the U.S. state with the worst quality of life.

October 13 – Police in Akron, Ohio said that they arrested 50-year-old David Scofield of Lancaster after he pulled over an off-duty police officer using a fake police car and uniform.

October 20 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was named the winner of Gawker.com’s Worst Accent contest.

November 11 – Police in Oslo, Norway responded to an apartment where screams were reported only to find a man upset because he lost a game of chess to a computer.

December 3 – A pet cat survived for more than a month when it accidentally stowed away in a moving box when its human family relocated from Norfolk, Virginia to Hawaii.

December 15 – The Merriam-Webster Dictionary named “culture” as its word of the year.

I don’t know if there was much culture or not in the mumbo-jumbo of shenanigans during 2014. Let’s hope 2015 brings a culture of blessings, peace and civility all around.

winter sunset, December sunset, Ohio sunset
The sun sets on another year. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014

The year in pictures

By Bruce Stambaugh

I had the grandiose idea to post photos I had taken in 2011 in four categories, people, floral and fauna, scenery and weather. As I sorted through the nearly 4,000 imagines I had taken this year, I quickly realized that the task was too daunting, especially given the limited time I had.

Instead, I chose to select a picture for each month of the year. Most were taken near my home near Millersburg in Ohio’s Amish country. Others were shot while on vacation or out of our area. What I assembled turned out to be an eclectic collection that ends up serving both as a through the lens summary of my year and a representation of each of the original categories.

Here, then, are my pictures of the month for 2011.

January

American Goldfinch by Bruce Stambaugh
Bird lover that I am, I enjoy feeding and photographing birds. This female American Goldfinch posed nicely for me on a porch post while waiting for an opening at a feeder.

February

Eastern Bluebird by Bruce Stambaugh
Though this shot is of another bird, this chilly female Eastern Bluebird served as model for both the birds that I love and the weather that I watch. With the stinging, horizontally blowing snow on a late February day, she sought food and shelter and found both in the hollowed out log peanut feeder that hung on our back porch.

March

Espresso art shot by Bruce Stambaugh
I chose this shot as a symbol of how the year unfolded. Taken outside a café in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, I couldn’t help notice the irony of the dark gray shadow of the white window lettering on the back of the chair inside the shop. The rest of the picture is busy and blurred with multiple reflections, much like my 2011 life experience.

April

Family photo by Bruce Stambaugh
Inscribed on my grandfather Stambaugh’s tombstone is the simple yet profound phrase, “He liked people.” Well, so do I, especially family. Whenever family gathers, like my daughter’s family did at Easter with us, we try to get a family photo. But with young children, getting a perfect picture is a challenge. I thought this imperfect one to perfectly represent that point. The middle child, the long-haired lefty on the left, distains set up shots about as much as me. His older brother enjoyed Davis’ tantrum while the boys’ father tried to settle number two. The granddaughter ignored the silliness and played with a toy, while our photogenic daughter stayed focused on the camera as best she could.

May

Two birds by Bruce Stambaugh
Yep, another bird picture. It wasn’t the subject matter as much as the color that made this the May pick. Plus, it’s a rarity to have a male Baltimore Oriole and a male Red-headed Woodpecker on a suet feeder at exactly the same time. Fact is, neither seemed to mind the other since they continued to feed for several minutes.

June

Floral and fauna by Bruce Stambaugh
June was a beautiful month, save the occasional severe weather. After a long, chilly, wet spring, June’s warmth and sun brought out beautiful flowers and insects, like these Sweet Williams and this Tiger Swallow-tail butterfly.

July

Shelf cloud by Bruce Stambaugh
I felt this picture embodied the year we had in northeast Ohio as much as any photo I shot. Precipitation records were broken throughout the state in 2011. Severe thunderstorms, like this one with its foretelling shelf cloud, pelted northern Ohio all spring and well into the fall. Flooding, damaging tornadoes and microbursts, hail and blinding snowstorms were all a part of the year’s complex weather.

August

Lush harvest by Bruce Stambaugh
Notorious as a hot, humid and often dry month, August fooled us this year. As lovely as June was, August was even nicer. I thought this shot of my Amish neighbor cutting golden oats between lush alfalfa and emerald field corn best represented the month’s congeniality.

September

Sept. 11 sunset by Bruce Stambaugh
Like millions of other global citizens, September 11 is a special day for me. Mostly out of the desire for peace, I consider this day personally sacred. I tend to use the day for reflection and prayer. I thought the sunset on the 10th anniversary needed no words of explanation as to why it was September’s choice.

October

Fall sunrise by Bruce Stambaugh
Every photographer knows when he or she has taken the shot. On a foggy fall morning, I was fortunate enough to capture this shot two miles east of our home. I still smile when I see it.

November

Benefit auction by Bruce Stambaugh
Our church community is an important ingredient in my life. On the first Saturday in November, Millersburg Mennonite Church held a benefit auction for two couples in our congregation who either have adopted or are in the process of adopting children. Of course, the cost of that process is high. All the items in the auction were donated. Needless to say, the auction was an all-around success.

December

Christmas Bluebird by Bruce Stambaugh
We began this venture with a bird. I figured we might as well end it that way, too, especially when this male Eastern Bluebird came calling at the sunflower heart feeder and basked in the Christmas Day afternoon sun.

People, floral and fauna, scenery and weather all play important parts in my life. I feel fortunate to be able to regularly photograph shots representing each category. If I just happen to stumble upon some scene, bird, flowers, cloud or person that requires that I shoot a shot, I consider myself a happy and blessed person.

Happy New Year everyone!

Bruce