Nearly ready for science fiction

As the Highway Department’s electronic billboard warned drivers:

RADAR

LASER

AIRCRAFT.

I was expecting such strange things in the air, you simply can’t picture it. How could they possibly build these? Shimmering overhead, maybe flashing, too. Better than UFOs, most likely.

How long has that hyphen been there?

Central Fire Station, Dover, New Hampshire.

After years of taking the same route, have you ever been startled to look up and see something striking for the first time?

I’ve driven or walked past this almost daily for the past 20 years but simply hadn’t noted the one detail. The 9-11 in the address.

Take a close look at that sign.

Firefighters across the Northeast feel deeply about their fallen brothers in the World Trade Center attacks, especially those afflicted later by the toxic consequences. Dover’s professionals are no exception, as the mural painted across the back of the Central Station parking lot proclaims.

The mural reflects the department’s solidarity with the wider brotherhood of firefighters.

When I gazed up and saw that hyphen in 9-11, I thought they had inserted it in the street address – 911 – perhaps as a sign of continuing support.

The building next door, at 7 Broadway.

Then my eyes caught the address next door – 7 – and I realized the station sits at 9 and 11 Broadway, where it’s been for more than a century. How coincidental, then, that its address would line up with a much later significance.

Ten facts about the Ohio River

In a whimsical twist in my novel What’s Left, I placed the town along the Ohio River. Well, the navigable waterway is a defining element of southern Indiana.

  1. Length of the Ohio River: 981 miles
  2. Length along Indiana: 240 miles before adding twists. Drains all but the northernmost area of the state.
  3. At its mouth: It is considerably larger than the Mississippi, making it the main hydrological stream of the whole river system.
  4. Number of states feeding into the Ohio River: 15.
  5. Largest tributary: Tennessee River, 652 miles long. Its watershed includes Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, a corner of Louisiana, as well as Tennessee and Kentucky.
  6. Largest northern tributary: Wabash River, 503 miles long. It originates in Ohio and flows across Indiana before becoming part of the border with Illinois.
  7. Average depth of Ohio River: 24 feet.
  8. The biggest city along its way: Pittsburgh, metropolitan population of 3.5 million. The river begins with the confluence of the Allegheny, from upstate New York, and the Monongahela, which drains part of West Virginia and Maryland as well as Pennsylvania, at Point State Park in the Gold Triangle.
  9. Next largest: Cincinnati, metropolitan area population of 2.2 million. Can be seen as the waterway’s hub.
  10. Major hurdle: Louisville, Kentucky, sits at the Falls of the Ohio, which once presented a barrier to river traffic. The McAlpine Locks and Dam stand where the Louisville and Portland Canal was built in 1830 to allow vessels to bypass the falls. It was the first major engineering project on the river and, by some accounts, the first on an American waterway.

OH, YES!

Think of this as a referendum. No nation can be great if its soul is ugly. Stand up for factual truth rather than unsupported claims.

As the bumper sticker says:

Love this bumper sticker. And to think, these days it’s a political statement.