August 29, 2013
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Driving northwest from Chicago toward Lake Geneva, as we begin to cross farmland, I notice domes of light pop up on the horizon.
I soon learned that these are artificial light emissions rising up from villages and towns and shopping and industrial areas.
These light domes are what astronomers call light pollution, and they increasingly make the sky seem to glow while interfering with man’s ability to see the stars clearly.
Scientists now know that some 50 percent of the light on earth seen from space is wasted energy, serving no purpose, accidentally spilling upward. An estimated one and a half billion dollars a year of such wasted light energy is emitted skyward from the U.S. alone. Now, some two-thirds of the night sky around our globe is clouded by such man-made light pollution.
One of the often over-looked dimensions of conservation in our natural habitat is man’s wasteful and damaging pollution of the night sky with unneeded and easily attenuated man-made light.
This is one aspect of atmospheric pollution we can readily control.
Way too many of our street lights, security lights and shopping lights, from major cities like Chicago to small towns like Lake Geneva are robbing our people, young and old, of seeing the wonders of the night sky.
The Milky Way, the massive galaxy of which the Earth is a part, is invisible to most people in cities and even small towns. Most of the starry sky is invisible, because of modern light pollution.
When the University of Chicago opened Yerkes Observatory, the world’s first astrophysical laboratory and still home to the largest conventional telescope ever created, on the shores of Lake Geneva in the tiny village of Williams Bay, it was because there was little to no light pollution.
The village, some 85 miles from Chicago, had yet to be electrified in 1897 when the famed observatory opened, and the large lake provided the observatory almost absolute darkness for viewing toward the east, south and west.
Even today, when most modern research telescopes are located on mountain tops in remote unpopulated areas, we were recently able on a clear summer’s night to stand on the lawn outside Yerkes and, prompted by an expert observer, begin with our naked eyes, to make out the Milky Way and other long unseen mysteries of the stellar umbrella.
Having just seen a documentary on light pollution called “The City Dark” on PBS, that talked about the disappearance of details in the night sky for so many people, and even the possibility that too much light at night could contribute to health problems for some, I experienced an “aha” moment about modern society.
Part of the film’s premise is that light pollution was taking away the visual connection to the vastness of the universe among younger generations, and perhaps contributing to a growing self-centeredness.
I wondered if the lack of public and governmental support for a manned space program is partly because we are being increasingly disenfranchised in our relationship to the cosmos.
Have today’s generations begun to believe that our increasingly urban life here on earth, under our expanding localized bubbles of light, is “all there is” for mankind?
Or are we still part of a cosmic continuum that offers endless learnings, exploration and even a relative eternity of succession for our species and life now on Earth?
Pointing our man-made lights downward and lifting our eyes once again to the night sky may “illuminate” the way to fresh possibilities.
August 29, 2013
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Two months ago I had a blockage and ended up in the emergency room. After many tests they found cancer in my colon.
I had to go in for surgery to remove part of my colon. Due to an infection I caught in the hospital my recovery took much longer. Since I am 60 years old, and still need to work to pay my bills, this came as quite a shock.
I thought I was healthy because I make a real effort to take care of myself. I have had to sell some of my belongings just to make rent this month. I know I have to reduce my overhead to survive.
I found a new place to rent that would be much more affordable for me but I do not have the security deposit and first month’s rent. The stress of constant worry over my finances has left me feeling helpless and very scared. I am just beginning to gain back my strength, due to the chemotherapy I have had to endure.
My employer has been very supportive by holding my job for me, thank God. My doctors are encouraging that I will beat this, but I don’t know how I will survive financially without getting into a place with lower rent and utilities.
Please help me.
I went to visit the woman at the address listed.
I knocked at the door of the house she was renting. When there was no answer I walked around to the back door.
There I found the woman sitting on the back patio. She looked shocked at first when a man walked around to her back yard, then she looked surprised and smiled as she recognized me.
She reached out her hands to mine. I held her hands and introduced myself.
She said, “There is no introduction needed. I feel like we have already met. Not in person but in spirit.” I acknowledged her comment and took the offered seat next to her.
We shared a moment talking about our mutual love for God, then moved to talking about her situation. The woman told me about her job, her illness, surgery and recovery. The woman had been through a very serious ordeal in the past few months. Thank God her health was now improving.
The woman went over her budget with me, along with the assistance she had applied for and was still waiting for. She had been surviving before her illness by doing office work.
Our fellow creation needed our assistance to get through a very tough time in her life.
She said, “I really miss my job, I have to get back to work soon. The doctors should release me in the next two weeks. I’m getting stronger.” She started to cry, saying, “Being all alone these past months, fighting to survive this terrible ordeal, almost broke me.”
“I was witnessing my financial demise like a black cloud over me. At first I started to get sicker from the staph infection I caught at the hospital. But that was overshadowed by the intense fear of being alone and helpless while I was losing everything. Then I pulled through by my faith in God. Every time I got scared or felt an intense loneliness, I would pray. When I prayed for help my thoughts turned to The Time Is Now to Help, thinking of all the wonderful acts of helping I read about in the newspaper. I have been so hopeful The Time Is Now would help me.”
I replied, “Our prayers have been answered. All of us at The Time Is Now to Help always look to God to bring those who need our help to our attention.” With that she held my hand tighter and cried tears of relief saying, ‘Thank God.’”
We went over her lease for her present rental. I asked if she had explained her situation to her landlord. She said she had not because she was embarrassed to explain her illness to him. I told her I could call him for her if she didn’t mind.
“Would you do that for me?” she asked. I told her I would be happy to get the rental situation straightened out for her.
I called the landlord and after a lengthy conversation, he agreed to let her out of the lease at the end of the month.
My next call was to the rental she had found that was not only much cheaper, but very close to her job. I made sure they had the first floor rental still available, and confirmed the heat was included. It would help her considerably.
She would need our assistance with first and second month’s rent and security deposit to get her budget back on track with her returning to work.
Before leaving I made sure she had sufficient food. I encouraged her to keep up with her healthy eating habits and promised to have her favorite fresh vegetables dropped off.
She smiled and said, “I would be so grateful. It is all I feel like eating.” I congratulated her on being so diligent in prayer and fighting for her health.
In a few short weeks the woman was moved and settled into her new rental. She was so very grateful for our assistance that helped keep her from homelessness. A kind volunteer visited every now and then and I called to make sure she did not have any more financial needs. She continues to reassure me she is stronger every day, back at work and loving life.
Together, we will continue to replace the fear, pain and suffering of poverty, with compassion, healing, caring and sharing with our hearts to change lives. Thank you for helping us achieve God’s good works for those in desperate need.
Health and Happiness,
God bless everyone,
Recent Community columnists
The Lake Geneva 'riots' of 1966 and 1967Another point of view from someone who actually took partAugust 22, 2013I read with interest John Halverson’s article about the 1966 and 1967 summer “riots” in Lake Geneva and noted his appeal for comments about those “riots.” I was a participant in the first of these “riots” and this column is a response to Mr. Halverson’s appeal for recollections of them. My participation in the “riot” was primarily due to my youthful exuberance and “anti-authoritarian” demeanor. First and foremost, those “riots” were completely apolitical. They had nothing whatsoever to do with the anti-Vietnam war movement. They were fueled by beer, and if any theme united the participants, it was a loathing of cops. The cause of the “riots” in Lake Geneva might be ascribed to the nature of the response of the local police force (augmented by deputized citizens) as much as it could be to the boisterous behavior of the participants in the “riots,” as Curtis A. Woods of Lyons and Nick Haviland of Lake Geneva pointed out in their contributions to the recollections of the “riots.” While the overwhelming majority of those who participated in the “riots” were young males from Chicago and the Chicago suburbs, who had come to Lake Geneva to have a good time partying, there were also numerous youthful participants who were year-round residents of Lake Geneva. I was slightly older than most of the participants. I was married and had a two-month-old daughter. On a hot summer day in 1966, as I walked downtown towards the Riviera, I saw that a large crowd had assembled on lower Broad Street. As I got closer I saw that the Lake Geneva Police Department had deputized many local citizens to buttress the police force. I recall Doug Gerber, my Badger High School football coach, and Dan Andresen as being among those who had been deputized. I saw Doug carrying a length of rope that resembled a “hangman’s noose” and Dan carrying what looked to me like a pitchfork. They were in the center of lower Broad Street, bunched together with members of the LG police force and other deputized citizens. I can recall the names of many young local residents who participated in the “riots,” but they will remain anonymous since they, like me, were caught up in the youthful exuberance of the moment. I joined the crowd and as it grew larger and larger, it spilled into the street. The police began to physically shove people back onto the sidewalk. The crowd surged forward many times, but it retreated each time the police shoved against it. Many people in the crowd were passing out cans of beer to anybody who wanted one. There was a drunken party atmosphere, combined with a collective, universal dislike of the cops. That night while I was drinking at Miller’s (now Chuck’s) bar in Fontana, people at the bar told me that a large confrontation with the cops had also occurred in front of the bar earlier in the day. What had happened in Lake Geneva during the summer of 1966 had been a prelude to what would happen in the summer of 1967. Many of the youth who came to Lake Geneva in the summer of 1967 anticipated a rerun of what had happened during the summer of 1966, and they were not disappointed. But the “riots” of 1966 and 1967 were not unique to Lake Geneva. During those summers there were numerous beer-fueled “riots” in resort communities all across the county including in Geneva on the Lake in Ohio, just east of Cleveland. The “riots” were a means by which young people let off pent-up steam, and were fueled by beer. Most were directed against any manifestation of authority. What happened in Lake Geneva in 1966 and 1967 was not, as some contend, exceptional. As the summer of 1968 arrived, the hordes of young males who descended upon Lake Geneva knew that the cops would be waiting in force for them. There was no repeat during the summer of 1968 of the events of the summers of 1966 and 1967. The movement against the war in Vietnam, which had begun in February 1965, did not grow into a truly mass movement until 1967, after which it captured the attention and engaged the involvement of millions of American youth during the ensuing four years. There would be no beer-fueled “riots” in Lake Geneva or in any other venue during the summers of those four years (1968-71). Like Curtis Woods of Lyons, I too would be present at the Dow Chemical anti-war protest in Madison in October of 1967. To have been there was far more significant than participating in a beer-fueled rite (not riot) of summer in Lake Geneva or anywhere else in 1966 or 1967. Patrick Quinn is a Lake Geneva native who is University Archivist Emeritus at Northwestern University.
Columnist part of public TV's visit to Lake GenevaAugust 08, 2013It was a remarkable several hours.Milwaukee Public Television has come up with a program that examines the innards of Wisconsin communities while maintaining an informality and good humor which seems to help guarantee keeping viewers aboard.This sort of quality usually comes down to one or two personalities.
State tax cuts long overdueAugust 08, 2013In the 1990s, Wisconsin’s economy was humming along, the unemployment rate was low, government spending was moderate, and tax revenue was peaking year after year, generating surpluses for the state.At the time, the governor and legislators were practically tripping over themselves to either spend the extra money quickly, or on occasion, return the money to the taxpayers. Those days seem like ancient history.By 2001, Wisconsin’s economy – much like the rest of the nation – took a turn for the worse when a debilitating recession coupled with horrific terrorist attacks put a stop to any growth in the private sector.
...subscribers>> Historian recalls meeting P.K. WrigleyAugust 08, 2013“Hi, Tommy. How’s the boy? He sure is growing up quickly, Tommy. He’s going to be a fine young man.” The slender, tall man in a long-sleeved white shirt, open at the collar, reached into his pocket, as he had done so often before, extracted a shiny dime and handed it to the boy. The man patted the young boy on his head. The boy, elated as usual with the dime that had been given to him, knew that he would soon be able to buy a pack of Spearmint and a pack of Doublemint gum. It was a hot summer day in July 1947. The young boy, his grandfather and the tall, slender man in the open-necked, long-sleeved white shirt were standing next to the American Legion Canteen on Lake Street, which today is Wrigley Drive. The young boy knew that his grandfather and the man who always gave him a dime were the best of friends. He knew that his grandfather, a plumber, had installed the plumbing in the tall, slender man’s lakeshore mansion. He also knew that the man was famous because he owned the company that made the gum that the dime he clutched in his fist would soon buy.
...subscribers>> How the county budget is builtAugust 08, 2013I was relieved to hear at least a few people snickering when I said that I was about to give this year’s “Gipper” speech. “Gipper,” to readers that weren’t alive during either the Knute Rockne or Ronald Reagan eras, refers to George Gipp, a star of the Notre Dame football team about 90 years ago. Gipp, who died of some disease during his senior year in college, was alleged to have had a deathbed conversation with his coach, Knute Rockne, imploring him to invoke his name when things looked bleak for the Fighting Irish, and “win one for the Gipper.”
...subscribers>> Beware huckstersJuly 25, 2013Beware huckstersSad to say, we are a nation of hucksters. Selling seems to take precedence over people’s privacy and common courtesy. Now advertisers see robots as splendid opportunity. But “robo” calls are offensive, to say nothing about interrupting routines.
Good reading for government buffsSlow paced, predicable plot, no surprise ending, but interesting none-the-lessJuly 18, 2013I will try my best to temper my enthusiasm. The last time I wrote about the county’s “Journal of Proceedings” book I remarked that I looked forward to its annual release as if it were the latest Dan Brown thriller. A few weeks later, during a question and answer session following a presentation I made, an audience member told me that if I really felt that way I should “get a life.”
History of the Greeks in Lake GenevaJune 27, 2013Much has been written about the Anglo-Saxon Protestants from Vermont and upstate New York and their descendants who dominated Lake Geneva for at least the first century of its existence. Quite a bit has also been written about the Irish immigrants who settled in the “Irish Woods” west of Lake Geneva after they had built the railroad from Chicago to Geneva in 1856. They and their descendants became the largest ethnic minority population in Lake Geneva, and formed the backbone of the St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church. Many residents are aware of the first Italian immigrants in Lake Geneva, the Lazzaroni family, who operated a fruit stand on the north side of the 700 block of Main Street during the years following the turn of the 19th century. The Lazzaronis later purchased the Hotel Clair (and the bowling alley beneath it), which is now the “Landmark Center.” The descendants of the Lazzaronis are the Payne family. But few residents are aware of the history of Greeks in Lake Geneva, despite the fact that they have played a key role in the city’s restaurant and tourism business for more than seven decades and a Greek-American is a former mayor of Lake Geneva.The patriarch of the Greek community in Lake Geneva was Peter Pappas. Pappas came to Lake Geneva a decade and a half after the turn of the 19th century as a waiter in the then-new Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Geneva Hotel (alas, demolished 40 years ago). Subsequently he brought his family from Greece to Lake Geneva, and, with his wife Georgia, opened Georgia’s International Café on the west side of the 200 block of Broad Street adjacent to where Lake Geneva’s bus station was once located. The Pappas family was followed by the Millas and later the Chironis families. Louie and Mary Millas arrived in Lake Geneva in the 1930s. They opened Millas’s restaurant, which is today the Olympic restaurant, on the south side of the 700 block of Main Street. Louie and Mary Millas were Spyro “Speedo” Condos’s grandparents. The Chironis family opened Chironis’ restaurant, which is known today as Harry’s, on the south side of the 800 block of Main Street. It is owned by Harry Chironis, the youngest son in the Chironis family.
Rediscover the quiet delight of lettersJune 27, 2013In the 1960’s a lot of people “turned on and tuned out.” Today we are so tuned in, we are “WIFI-ed” and “GPS’d” 24/7. Armed with cellphones, BlackBerrys, iPods, satellite radio and instant messaging, many of us have never been more “connected” ... or so overwhelmed.In the steadily growing chaos we call life — with its never-ending meteor shower of information, commentary and noise — more and more people are rediscovering the quiet delight of sending and receiving cards and letters.Letters help make moments special. Joys are recorded, shared and savored. Problems fade, or at least gain perspective, when they are written down and shared with family or friends by mail. When you sit down to write a friend, you are never alone.
...subscribers>> August supports Gov. Walker's budgetJune 27, 2013The State Assembly recently wrapped up the 2013-15 budget bill process. After Gov. Scott Walker put forth his recommendations earlier this year, the Joint Finance Committee held hearings around the state and voted on modifications to the budget bill. The full legislature took up the bill this week. The budget bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation that the legislature votes on during the legislative session. The budget bill is more than1,000 pages and contains many different provisions; however, I only get one vote as your state representative. Although I do not agree with every single item in the budget, I do feel that overall it does keep Wisconsin on the right track. Therefore, I voted in favor of the budget bill because I believe there are many positive provisions for the residents of our area.To begin with, the state budget contains one of the largest tax cuts in state history. Specifically, income taxes will be cut by more than $650 million dollars, and all tax cuts contained in the budget total nearly $1 billion. These tax cuts were possible because of the budget reforms we enacted last legislative session, which resulted in a large budget surplus this fiscal year. Wisconsin has notoriously been categorized as one of the top 10 taxed states in the nation. It is my hope that by returning the surplus to the taxpayer by enacting this historic tax cut, we can move our state out of the top 10 highest taxed states.