Tuesday, July 14, 2020

65 is the new 45! - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

65 is the New 45!

During the pandemic, my four siblings and I have been texting regularly about our daily activities Three of us are already retired and the two youngest will retire at the end of the month, with a family party planned including the appropriate masks and social distancing no doubt! Each were working from home during the pandemic, so had much more time to spend with their grandkids, taking them on all kinds of adventures.

For example, my youngest sibling road his motorcycle to Nashville to visit his daughter and her children, while also doing handyman work around her house, with the grandkids pitching in to “help”. All were duly recorded via text photos, like this photo showing the nicely redone patio. Good work, bro!

After Nashville, my brother and his wife rode to their cottage in northern Michigan to enjoy the 4th of July holiday weekend. He’s really getting an early start on retirement!

During the same time period, my sister took her grandchildren to the Splash Pad in New Bremen and the Cascades in West Milton.

From all the photos texted and the commentary, my two younger siblings were having the times of their lives with their grandkids while getting a nice taste of retirement. It’s great they are retiring at an age young enough to enjoy such activities. I posed the rhetorical question wondering if we could have imagined doing the same as young kids with our grandparents? My middle sister got into the conversation by asking how old our grandparents were at her age 4 when she first started to remember them.

Checking out the very informative Thieman Family Genealogy, I found our grandparents were all born around 1889, and since my middle sister was born in 1950, at her age of 4, our grandparents would have all been around 65 years old, which is the same age as my youngest sister who was having all the fun frolicking with her grandkids in the splash pad and cascade. None of us would have ever imagined doing such activities with our grandparents. So we naively concluded today’s age 65 is the new 45! Wishful thinking on our part; or not?

 Dad’s Family of 14 circa 1929
Mom’s Family of 11 circa 1938

Suddenly the texts got more thought provoking, such as posing the hypothetical question if my sister had given birth and cared/cooked for 11-14 kids (like our grandmothers), she would likely not have the energy to scamper in the water with her 50+ grandkids either! Then comments followed about the labor intensive housework without modern day appliances and the planting, growing, harvesting, canning and preparing the food for such a brood, all in old, uncomfortable grandma shoes, stockings, girdle and long dress, the common garb back then. Notice how nobody smiled in those old photos. Now you know why. Thankfully, those days are long gone.

My maternal great grandparents and their children circa 1936

Happy retirement, sister and brother! The last couple months have given you a taste of what you’ve been missing.


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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Covid Scare - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

Covid Scare

Last week one evening my temperature suddenly rose to 99.9, plus I had an earache and felt achy all over. So we immediately went into Covid protection mode, with me relegated to our lower level walkout nicknamed the “dungeon” where we have a spare bedroom, full bath and small kitchenette along with my home office, workshop and exercise area.

My wife got out the Clorox and started wiping down everything I had potentially touched, plus we immediately contacted our family physician’s office and was connected with the doctor-on-call for a telemedicine conference around 9:00pm that evening. Based on my symptoms, the doctor recommended a Covid test and emailed a prescription order on the spot. The doctor provided a website with local testing locations and also suggested acetaminophen, liquid Mucinex expectorant, deep breathing and plenty of water until the test results become available. She warned the standard nasal swab test is not perfect, so recommended a full 14 day quarantine as a precaution even if negative.

After a restless night, primarily thinking about where I might have contracted the Covid and also to whom I might have transmitted the virus over the prior 5 days. I had golfed, played tennis and ate only at outside restaurants. After waking the next morning, my wife left some yogurt and juice for breakfast outside the closed door to my “dungeon” room; and for sure no good morning kiss! After eating, I began searching on the website for a test site but ran into difficulties. Most would only take asymptomatic (no symptoms) customers and those that tested systematic patients were primarily hospitals via their emergency room, the last place I wanted to be. So I called a friend that had lost his son recently to a massive heart attack suspected to have been linked to the virus. My friend and his family all had to be tested as a precaution. He provided the contact info for the urgent care clinic where they were tested.

After calling the clinic, I made arrangements for a Covid test that afternoon. Once arriving, I was told to stay in my car, wear a mask and gloves, then call into the clinic. An attendant soon came directly to the car in full PPE garb and provided a clip board with several forms that I had to complete. After filling out all the forms, she returned to indicate they now offer three different Covid tests, all covered 100% by Medicare I asked her what she recommended and she indicated all three to provide the greatest accuracy.

The first was called the IgM test and involved a pin prick on my finger tip that gave result in 15 minutes. This test detects IgM antibodies, which are usually the first antibodies produced by the immune system when the coronavirus attacks. A positive IgM test indicates that you may have been infected and that your immune system has started responding to the virus. When IgM is detected you may still be infected, or you may have recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection.

The second was called the IgG test via a blood draw with the results available in 30 minutes. This test detects IgG antibodies that develop in most patients within seven to 10 days after symptoms of COVID-19 begin. IgG antibodies remain in the blood after an infection has passed. These antibodies indicate that you may have had COVID-19 in the recent past and have developed antibodies that may protect you from future infection. It is unknown at this point how much protection antibodies might provide against reinfection.

The third was the conventional nasal swab with the results available from an outside lab in two days. Any single test may only be 70% accurate; however, the nurse practitioner who administered the tests indicated the combination of the three has proven to be 97% accurate. Needless to say, I requested all three as recommended. The tests took all of 5 minutes and were administered literally in the vestibule of the clinic. Fortunately, the first two antibody tests came back negative, indicating an 80% certainty I did not have the virus. If the swab test also comes back negative, the certainty rises to 97%.

Our immune system apparently is somewhat analogous to how in the ships depicted in the Star Wars movie series the roamed the universe looking for trouble. The IgM antibodies are akin to the quick and nimble fighter ships while the IgG antibodies are like the larger star ships working together to search out and destroy the enemy death star Coronavirus! Sorry, it may be a stretch, but I like science fiction.

So with the first two tests negative, the nurse practitioner, confident I did not have the virus, invited me into the clinic so my earache could be checked out. She noticed inflammation and redness on the right ear lob and further diagnosed an outer ear infection (or swimmers ear even though I had not been swimming), which was the likely culprit for the low grade fever.

The achiness was probably from cardio tennis the day before. Usually I do cardio tennis with an older group, but that session was rained out, so I ventured onto the court with the younger players; a mistake! The drills are similar and held on two adjacent courts with 10 players following a path represented by the blue line opposite two pros who are hitting balls following the yellow path to our backhand then forehand. Unbeknownst to me until it was too late, only for the younger crowd, the players touch the net with their racket twice each cycle, which was exhausting!

So an antibiotic and ear drops were prescribed, and a ready-for-pick-up text from our pharmacist arrived literally before leaving the clinic. I picked up the scripts on my way home and immediately took the meds as directed, noticing improvement by the next day. And the day after that, the swab test results also came back negative. Now everything is thankfully back to "the new normal", good morning kisses and all!


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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Chevy Vega - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

Chevy Vega

You might be wondering why this Ford guy would write a blog about a GM car like the Chevy Vega. The memories all came to the surface this week when a fellow Ford retiree mentioned that the air conditioning system was acting up on his 2015 F250 pick-up. As someone who started out as an engineer at Frigidaire in Dayton working on a/c systems for General Motors, I volunteered to help him diagnose the problem - from a distance that is, in light of the Covid-19 protocols.

Here’s what the a/c system looks like. When the air coming out of the registers is warm, a number of possible issues could be at cause. By checking temperatures and pressures around the system, the problem can be generally isolated. In this case, we diagnosed the problem to be a plugged orifice tube which provides a critical function within the system. If it’s plugged, the refrigerant cannot flow to the evaporator to cool the air flowing over it. The F250 was taken to the local Ford dealer who confirmed the diagnosis, removed the debris from the plugged orifice tube, reinstalled it and recharged the system with refrigerant. It’s now working perfectly.

That orifice tube looked very familiar as I had worked with the Frigidaire engineer who patented the orifice tube over 50 years ago in 1968. His name is Dick Widdowson who had served under General George S. Patton during WWII and developed over 30 patents while employed by GM.

As a coop student in my sophomore year of college at General Motors Institute, my work assignment at Frigidaire was in the test labs. Each of us coop students were assigned to an engineer who took us under his wings, so to speak. Mr. Widdowson was in charge of the a/c system for the upcoming 1970 Chevrolet Vega, GM’s first foray into small cars. The a/c systems in most small cars at the time were not factory installed, instead provided by the aftermarket.

Thermostatic Expansion Valve  
So the challenge for the Vega factory-installed a/c system was to be lighter, smaller and less costly than the aftermarket units. I was fortunate enough to be part of the development team lead by Mr. Widdowson. And the orifice tube was a key enabler to meet the goal in that the aftermarket systems had complex thermostatic expansion valves with many moving parts and costly components while the orifice tube was simple, light and had no moving parts. I can vividly recall how Mr. Widdowson created plexiglass housings for many of the a/c system components in order to visually see what was going on inside with the refrigerant as it circulated around the system during our various test runs in the lab.

The Vega was to be assembled in Lordstown, Ohio with the cars shipped across the country in railcars that held the units vertically rather than on all four wheels.

So it became important to make sure the a/c system would still function properly after being shipped in such a position. Lo and behold, we discovered a serious lubrication issue in that compressor oil that normally circulates in the refrigerant would migrate to the accumulator and upon start-up would starve the compressor of much needed oil. The fix was a small bleed hole in a u-shaped tube at the bottom of the accumulator to allow the oil to drain.

A smaller, lighter weight a/c compressor was also being designed for the Vega by another group within the department, where I was fortunately assigned to during my next work period. Then eventually as the products went into production, as an upper classman at GMI, I became a key member of the launch team, providing invaluable experience that paid off handsomely throughout my entire career. I like to think Dick Widdowson was mentored by George Patton, so no doubt many of the traits Dick taught me came indirectly from the General.


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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Returnables - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s


The stay-at-home orders from Covid-19 have meant our garage is full of bags and bags of returnables here in Michigan, which has charged 10 cents for every bottle and can since 1976. At this time, for health reasons, grocery stores are banned from taking back the returns, so there’s no place to go - until now. A local charity called the Drew Crew is collecting them.The Drew Crew is a non-profit organization focused on helping individuals and families that have suffered a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury, so it’s a very worthwhile cause.

Ohio had a beer bottle returnable policy back in the 1950’s on the long neck bottles like shown above from the Cincinnati brewers. In fact, it was a nationwide policy establish in 1935, not state-by-state like today. There also was a deposit on the case if I recall. By the mid 1960’s, beer was being offered in cans, which avoided the long neck bottle deposit requirement. To compete, the glass bottle industry was also able to also get around the returnable fee by creating different shaped beer bottles, which eventually lead to the demise of the nationwide returnable policy, meaning each state was free to establish its own policy. Currently, nine states have returnables; California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont.

A local Shelby County company, Stolle Machinery, played a key role in the transformation of the beverage industry by the inventing the pop top can. An opener was no longer required, just pull a tab. One problem was the tabs were discarded and especially prone to injuring someone barefoot who stepped on them. Soon Stolle developed a pop top that kept the tab connected.

The glass bottle industry responded by developing a built-in opener integrated into the bottom of the bottle, and eventually evolved to the twist off cap so prevalent today.

Speaking of beer caps, Mary, the wife of a former co-worker whom we regularly see at our favorite lunch place, has a hobby of making earrings out of bottle caps! Every time we see her, I have to check out the brand of beer showing on her earrings. Turns out she’s not the only one with the hobby, as there’s quite a market for them on eBay. Here’s a set that sold for $8.

Having lived with and without returnable bottles here in Michigan, we observed firsthand the difference in terms of litter along roads and especially in rivers. For example, during my college days, we’d canoe the AuSable river in Northern Michigan and routinely dumped empty cans overboard.

The water was so clear, you could see the bottom of the river littered with discarded cans. But a few years after the returnable law went into effect, during another canoe trip, we noticed the river bottom was clear as canoeists saved all their cans for return.

Similarly, Canada has a bottle return policy, and during our fly-in fishing trips to northern Ontario. we had a 100 pound carry-on limit per person, which was mostly beer that we consumed while fishing and at the camp. Since the empty returnables were much lighter than when full, the fish we brought back made up the difference to keep us under the weight limit. This previous blogpost tells more. One tidbit - to allow more beer and fish, we literally layered up all our clothes and stuffed our pockets with fishing gear for the seaplane ride as they never weighed us, just our beer and tackle box.

Thankfully, our garage has been cleared out, a very worthwhile charity benefited, as did the environment.

Enjoy summer, don’t litter and stay safe, Fish Report readers.


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