Now that we’ve run out of homes to foreclose

Some actual good news on the economic front and in quality of life issues in my particular neck of the woods: Property values appear to be on an upward trend after a long slide that dovetailed with a huge spike in foreclosures on homes in Northeast Ohio. That giant sucking sound you heard in Cuyahoga County seems to be abating as property values climbed 4.2 percent in Cleveland from May to June, according to my friends at WCPN-FM, Cleveland’s NPR station.

My kids’ school, Miller South, scored Excellent with Distinction, the best you can get. The rest of Akron Public Schools didn’t fare as well, but public systems are often unfairly saddled with scores that must include kids who will never do well in tests or in school for a variety of socioeconomic reasons and because kids with learning disabilities are counted in those tests.

So we have a bright spot or two. But it ain’t all wine and roses just yet. Newspapers and other media continue to hemorrhage money, former media types (such as yours truly) still struggle to make a decent living in this new world, and I’m still seeing houses being foreclosed or selling at deep discounts. I’d give more serious thought to moving out of here if I could afford to sell the house. But I’m stuck, and the simple math is it’s cheaper to stay in the house than rent a similar sized house or even an apartment.

I’ve been lucky enough to fall in with one of the few local employers actually expanding locally, but I now face a huge crater of debt to climb out of. Can somebody throw me a rope?

I gotta say, the first decade of this millennium has pretty much sucked for a multitude of reasons, from terrorist attacks and disastrously mismanaged wars to magically disappearing careers to all those little things that drive me crazy. Maybe things are turning around. Finally.

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Farewell to Les Paul

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The great guitarist and inventor Les Paul

The inventor of the electric guitar has gone off to the great amplifier in the sky. Les Paul was 94.  The legendary guitarist remained active as a musician, guitar hero and will always be known by his namesake Gibson guitar, The Les Paul.

Paul had apparently already achieved a degree of fame as an accomplished musician when his desire to amplify guitars led to his innovation of wiring a microphone directly onto the body of a guitar and run that signal through an amplifier. Of all the innovators of the 1940s and ’50s who gave rise to the advent of rock ‘n’ roll, Les Paul certainly deserves a big pile of credit for making it possible.

Paul told his story to Spinner.com, including this excerpt”

“And there was no such thing as amplifiers, so I had to build my own — I took my mother’s radio and I turned it into one. I did the same thing with a guitar. I just took the guitar and said, ‘Hey, it’s not loud enough.’ I was playing a little barbecue stand halfway to Milwaukee and some critic that was sitting in the backseat of a car, ordering a sandwich, wrote a note that said, ‘You know, what you’re doing right out there is great, but your guitar is not loud enough.’ So I went home and told mom about it. She said, ‘You’ll figure it out, you’ll figure it out.’ What I figured out was how to make that guitar louder and better. First, I took an acoustical guitar and ended up filling it with Plaster of Paris. I tried everything, and it finally worked. I said, ‘I’m gonna make two guitars, one out of wood and one out of a big long piece of railroad track and make both of them identical.’ I used the same telephone for a pickup, the part that you listen to on the telephone, the magnet and the coil. I placed that under the string and I was just playing through my mother’s radio. Between the wooden guitar and the metal one, the railroad track was much better. I ran to my mother, saying, ‘I found it! I found it!’ My mother said, ‘The day you see a cowboy on a horse playing a railroad track,’ and she blew me right out of the water with that. I said, ‘It’s got to be wood. Okay, we’re gonna make it the most beautiful piece of dense wood that will be as close to that railroad track as we can get with that good sound.’ ”

Paul was clearly ahead of his time: “In 1930, I was already playing on the electric guitar, playing in a little bar in Cleveland, in Rochester, some state fairs.”

Ahhh, Canada

Yes, we are just retured from Pelee Island, Lake Erie’s Canadian getaway, with a new sunburn to peel away in the next few weeks. Here’s Lindsey re-creating a certain famous scene from a certain disaster movie (Titanic — in case you really didn’t know):

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More to come at another time …