Spooktacular Night


Halloween has a little something for everyone. I’d like to point out the painting in the lower right. “Jack O’Lantern” a digital painting by by Rado Javor (©2010-2016 RadoJavor) created in photoshop CS5. “The Legend of the Jack O’Lantern tells about the eternal Irish wanderer who wasn’t ‘let to the Heaven neither to Hell.’ He is traveling through the world in the search of Redemption.” See more of his work HERE.


It’s “ghosts and goblin” time again – with Halloween next week, the element of surprise makes it fun and unpredictable. When we were kids, my brothers and I used to sprint from house to house, block to block, and see who could get the most candy. As my daughters got older they would get all dressed up, go out with their pillow cases, and bring them back filled to the top. At that point, the real fun would start. Jackie and I would watch them dump out all of the candy in the family and start trading. Guess who got anything they didn’t want!! For fun, here is some trivia and scary urban legends you can share for a “spooktacular” night.

  • The fear of Halloween is known as Samhainopobia.
  • Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange is associated with the Fall harvest and black is associated with darkness and death.
  • The tradition of carving faces into vegetables dates to the Celts. As part of their autumnal celebration, they wanted to light the way to their homes for the good spirits, so they carved faces into vegetables such as turnips, potatoes and squash. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.
  • The name Jack o’ Lantern comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack. According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
  • If you see a spider on Halloween, it is the spirit of a loved one watching over you.
  • The common little brown bat of North America has the longest life span for a mammal it’s size, with a life span averaging 32 years.
  • The Ouija Board ended up outselling the game of Monopoly in its first full year at Salem. Over two million copies of the Ouija Board were shipped.
  • Halloween was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes.
  • Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.
  • The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human.
  • Chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters, with Snickers #1 – industry experts predict overall candy sales this year will top $2 billion.
  • Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the roman harvest festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.
  • Black cats were once believed to be witch’s familiars who protected their powers.
  • Signs of a werewolf are a unibrow, hair palms, tattoos, and a long middle finger.
  • In 1962, The Count Dracula Society was founded by Dr. Donald A. Reed. To this day, there are vampire clubs and societies with people claiming to be real vampires.
  • There really are so-called vampire bats, but they’re not from Transylvania. They live in Central and South America and feed on the blood of cattle, horses and birds.
  • Many people still believe that gargoyles were created by medieval architects and stone carvers to ward off evil spirits.
  • “Halloween” (the movie) was made in only 21 days in 1978 on a very limited budget. The movie was shot in the Spring and used fake autumn leaves. The mask used by Michael Meyers in the movie “Halloween” was actually William Shatner’s mask painted white. The character Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis was named after John Carpenter’s first girlfriend. While the setting for the story is in Illinois, the vehicles have California license plates.

Every year, urban legends make the rounds once again. Similar to the “Poison Halloween Candy” story, they play on parent’s fears that madmen are out to harm our children. Just a few …

BLOODY MARY: Who can forget the scary story of Bloody Mary, the evil spirit who will scratch your eyes out when summoned? Most people heard the Bloody Mary legend when they were children, listening to spooky ghost stories around the campfire. The tale is still told at slumber parties, campouts, and late-night bonfire parties. The legend claims that the evil woman can be summoned by chanting “Bloody Mary” into a mirror anywhere from three to one-hundred times in a darkened room lit only by a candle. (Thirteen seems to be the most popular number of chants, appropriately so). The bathroom is the most popular setting to test out the legend, but other dark rooms seem applicable. After the given amount of chants, the spirit will then appear in a mirror to claw your eyes out. Death will follow. Other variations have her driving you insane or pulling you into the mirror, never to be seen again.
Who Bloody Mary really is remains a mystery. While there are many versions of this story, many accounts point to a woman named Mary Worth, who was horribly disfigured in a car crash. Some are adamant that it’s Queen Mary I of England, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Some people still tell of a witch who was burned at the stake and has returned for revenge, or it may be the devil himself who comes for your soul. Legend has it that if you are near a mirror in total darkness, she can still come for you, regardless of whether or not you’re trying to call for her.

FRIDAY THE 13th: Most historians agree that the history of Friday the 13th as an unlucky day is a relatively short one, beginning sometime in the 19th century. Facts include: Antonio Rossini was an Italian composer famous for operas such as the Barber of Seville. His 19th century biographer, a British journalist named Henry Edwards, wrote that Rossini thought Fridays and the number 13 were unlucky. Rossini died on Friday, November 13th, 1868. Many folklorists cite Rossini’s biography as the first written reference to Friday the 13th as an unlucky day.
In the Canterbury Tales, written in the 14th century, there is a reference to “unlucky Fridays”. The whole root of the superstitions surrounding the number 13 may come from a Norse myth originating during prehistoric times. The myth goes that 12 gods were celebrating and dining in Valhalla when in walked Loki, the Norse god of mischief. According to the myth, Loki got the god of darkness to shoot Balder, the god of joy and gladness with a poisoned arrow, causing all of Earth to become dark as Balder died. Loki was the 13th guest, leading to the belief that 13 was a bad, unlucky number. No one can really say whether Friday the 13th is an unlucky day or even if there is any such thing as bad luck. That being said, millions of people believe in the superstition and no one can really say they are wrong.



It’s “Chowda” Time


On any fall day this month, if you are lucky enough, and in the right location (at the park, a church parking lot, or your own backyard), the air is filled with the aroma of the Atlantic Ocean – soft ‘n salty clams steaming in pots, alongside sweet potatoes, chicken, the last of the season’s corn and jugs filled with savory broth from the spigot, all waiting to be eaten and enjoyed. Around here, it’s Clambake time, and I love it.

Growing up, Dad loved to put on clam bakes for the family. My brothers and sisters would have contests on who could eat the most clams! I can only say I stopped counting once I hit the 6th dozen! The table would be piled high with the shells and there was nothing like the “chowda” that went along with it. As we have all grown up, a new tradition has been born, we try to get together annually for a clambake prior to Thanksgiving. This allows time for all of us siblings (and extended family) to reminisce and catch up at the same time. I can no longer hit the 6 dozen mark and that’s ok! The leftovers make wonderful chowder or sautéed in butter with a pinch of garlic! YUM

As you’d probably expect, clams, along with other shellfish such as oysters and mussels, have a worldwide audience. But because of peak clam sales here in September and October, Northeast Ohio is considered the fall clambake capital of the country. Churches, restaurants, fire departments, neighborhoods, veteran’s groups, cheerleaders, and families big and small all get into the act. According to the professionals who buy and sell clams, our area is a hotbed this time of year, according to John C. Young of Euclid Fish Co., a third generation fishmonger whose grandfather unloaded rail cars bearing iced-down barrels of clams from the shore. And Chesapeake Bay waterman Chad Ballard, the largest clam producer on the East Coast, agrees with all of them. We’re the top market in the fall for his product – not Chicago, Boston or New York, which have their clambake peaks in late summer. Say Ballard, “From our perspective, the volume is incredible. The northeast part of the country buys all year round, but in fall, no one comes close to NE Ohio.

Some attribute it to our origins as a kind of second Connecticut, since the “Western Reserve” lands in the northeast corner of Ohio were given to those veterans of the Revolutionary War. Others think it’s our mighty pre-election clambake ritual, when politicians use clams to lure constituents. And others think it’s just what’s needed before the chilly weather sets in for good. Here are some interesting facts:

  • While our love for the double-shelled food has held steady, clams themselves have changed. A growing number of them – 80 percent by some estimates – are now farm-raised. In a world where farm-raised seafood has a checkered reputation, clams stand out as not just a good thing, but also a necessary one.
  • Our appetite for oysters, once rivaled our love for clams. In the early 1900s, tens of thousands of gallons of oysters were consumed annually in Cleveland alone, including by families who cooked them at home.
  • The 1914 food section of The Plain Dealer was filled with reader suggestions on how to prepare them: In fritters, baked, sauced, wrapped in bacon, stuffed in a loaf, deviled, panned, scalloped, in soup and chowder, a pie, a hot cocktail. (“Hot” then meaning temperature, not spice.) “Inexhaustible seem the disguises of the festive oyster, to judge by the great variety of modes in which Women’s Exchange contributors serve the bivalve up,” read a story about a recipe contest.
  • Cleveland had restaurants devoted exclusively to shellfish menus. At a Cleveland shop called “The Ocean,” one story said, “oysters may be purchased by the barrel or hundred; bucket and count oysters by the hundred, quart or gallon.”
  • In an 1899 shucking contest downtown, the winners opened more than 50 oysters in about five minutes.
  • In 1900, the Fifth District Republican Club had its first clambake at its headquarters on Woodland Avenue. Recounted The Plain Dealer: “The bake was very successful in every way and about 200, who evidently brought their appetites with them, sat down to devour the festive clam and all that is good that goes with it.”
  • In 1906, the golden-era mayor Tom Johnson showed up with 1,200 others to the Buckeye Club’s Clambake at “Giesen’s Gardens on Pearl Street,” which raised money for band uniforms for their Cedar Point appearances.
  • Back in the day, most clams were harvested by hand rakes. Now, because of so many environmental changes, many of them are grown from egg. One-inch seedlings are sprinkled in the water and covered with netting to protect them from predators.
  • When full size, clams are gathered by hydraulic rakes and sometimes stored to help clean out grit. Wet storage also keeps inventories high and prices regulated.
  • The largest clam ever recorded was found in Okinawa in 1956, it weighed 750 pounds.
  • Hard shell clams can live to over 40 years if they can avoid humans, fish, starfish, crabs, birds and other predators.
  • In October 2007 a team of British marine biologists working north of Iceland dredged up what may have been the world’s oldest living animal–an Ocean Quahog clam from 250 feet deep turned out to be over 405 years old. Unfortunately, they realized the clams extreme age only after they had cut through its shell to count its growth rings.
  • Early French immigrants to Canada made a hearty soup called chaudree from salt pork and fish. (Chaudree derives from the Latin calderia ‘caldron’.) When chaudree crossed the Canadian border and moved down the eastern seaboard of the United States, “chowder” American style came into being. Maine, ever practical and plain, fostered a simple chowder using pure water, clams, salt pork, and of course, potatoes.
  • The dairy-rich state of Massachusetts chose to make its brand of chowder with milk, while Manhattan and Connecticut versions added tomatoes. Thus started the famous food controversy, still, if ever-to-be settled, as to whether chowder should be made with tomatoes.
  • According to the Father Willy, a clam veteran, “It’s a Cleveland thing – They just don’t do this everywhere.”




Fall Is More Than Just Blue Jays in Town


Some of our feathered friends: (Clockwise from top left) Broad-winged Hawk, Snowy owl, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Golden Eagle, White-winged Crossbill, confused with canaries?: the American Goldfinch (L) and the Evening Grosbeak (R), Canvasback Duck.

While working in the yard this week (awesome weather), I noticed some new and unusual bird calls and birds in the bushes. It peaked my interest, so I looked online to learn that Fall brings with it many changes to Ohio’s bird life. According to Bill Thompson, editor of Bird Watchers, and some other birders I found, and in what has become an almost annual tradition here at KHT here’s what we can look forward to:

  • September/October brings many changes to Ohio’s bird life, as this month is the peak of fall songbird migration. Even though there are probably more birds passing through the state in fall, their passages are much more subdued than in spring. Plumages are muted and generally lacking the festive hues that many warblers and other songbirds sport in spring.
  • By October, the warbler migration is past peak, although a few species, such as Yellow-rumped Warbler, are moving strongly. Sparrow migration has picked up, and will be a major feature of the month. Many short-distance migrants such as Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrush, Winter Wren, American Pipit, and others appear. Shorebird migration continues strongly through the first half of the month. Waterfowl migration is picking up, and many dabbling ducks are numerous throughout most of October, although geese, swans, and diving ducks tend to peak later.
  • We can find the American goldfinch, brightly colored and abundant little finches who favor the use of thistle down and other late-to-mature plant matter in the construction of their nests.
  • Migration hotspots like Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Black Swamp or Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus are excellent places to observe fall migrants. On a good day, these sites and others like them can be filled with blackpoll, bay-breasted, Cape May, and yellow-rumped warblers, among others. (see links below)
  • A number of species of birds, especially shorebirds, have elliptical migration routes that take them mostly west of Ohio in spring, but right through the Buckeye State in fall. If you want to add buff-breasted or Baird’s sandpiper to your bird-watching list, you’ll definitely want to go explore Ohio’s fall mudflat scene. Even some songbirds like the Connecticut warbler display similar migration routes and are best seen in this month. The elusive Connecticut warbler is the hardest of our regularly occurring warblers to find, spending much of its time furtively skulking in dense shrubbery, and more than one longtime Ohio birder has yet to add this one to the list.
  • In late September/early October, it’s wise to watch the skies, as hawk migration time arrives. The most dramatic species in terms of numbers are the broad-winged hawks. Forming flocks known as kettles, the peak passage of broad-wings is around the third week of September, and the vicinity of western Lake Erie is the best place to catch big flights. In Sept 2002, it was in this area that some 20,000 (never to be seen in those kinds of numbers) red-tailed, Cooper’s, and sharp-shinned hawks were seen high overhead.
  • If you want to see a migrating golden eagle, park yourself in the heart of the Oak Openings this month, because that’s when and where the most hugest! raptors are seen in our state. It’s a good time to look for that medium-sized falcon, or the merlin, in wide-open places like Big Island or Killdeer Plains wildlife areas, too.
  • Birders eagerly rub their hands in anticipation of winter finch invasions, such as evening grosbeak, purple finch, pine siskin, and red and white-winged crossbills. – – October and November are generally when the first invaders arrive on the scene. While these and other northern irruptives like red-breasted nuthatch and northern saw-whet owl are notoriously cyclical in numbers from year to year.
  • Waterfowl begin to stage big movements in our marshes as October fades to November, and perhaps the wild hordes of Canada geese are the most obvious of this group. While not as vociferous as the geese, Ohio marshes become packed with many species of ducks, including northern shoveler, blue-winged and green-winged teal, and northern pintail. Reliable as clockwork, mid to late November brings the flocks of tundra swans, that are best seen as they migrate along the Lake Erie shoreline. Another big, spectacular bird stages flights through western Ohio and even queues up in flocks to roost at favored mudflats, such as at Deer Creek Reservoir.
  • As November windes down, we’ve usually had our first taste of snow, and shirtsleeve birding is a thing of the past. The arctic visitors such as rough-legged hawk have returned, and snowy owls will start to be seen in favored Lake Erie haunts. Huge numbers of red-breasted mergansers form flocks so large in the offshore waters of Lake Erie that observers can’t believe their eyes and accurate estimates are nearly impossible. As many as 100,000 of these fish-eaters have been seen flying past one location in 10 minutes! Other hardy diving ducks become common on our great lake in November, too, including canvasback, ruddy duck, bufflehead, and American goldeneye. Constantly whirling overhead are the gulls, which pick up in numbers and diversity as winter sets in. Great black-backed gulls become more numerous, and giant flocks of Bonaparte’s gulls congregate in harbors and river mouths.
  • Late November/early December, is high time to have your feeders up and filled, as backyard birds will be eagerly seeking handouts by now. That perennial snowbird, the dark-eyed junco, is back in force, and American tree sparrows have begun to appear. Acclimating your yard birds to the feeders now should insure a steady supply of feathered friends throughout the coming winter.

For more info, click HERE for great birding hotspots in Ohio.
And to learn more about clubs and places to visit, use these handy links below:
Bird Cinema
Black River Audubon Society
Black Swamp Bird Observatory
Black Brook Audubon Society
Cleveland Audubon Society
Akron Audubon Society
Kirtland Bird Club
Western Cuyahoga Audubon Society




What’s Your “Will” Power?


(L to R Clockwise from top left) How I think early in the morning. Young Alfred Nobel. The presentation in Stockholm. The Nobel Medal. The Big Bang: Alfred Nobel’s most famous invention and how he made the fortune that funds the yearly prizes.


Got any will power? No, not the voice in your head to put down the second piece of pastry sitting next to your coffee cup, but “will” power.

If you’re like me, I’m occasionally thinking about “what’s to come” – later today, tomorrow, next month, year end, next year. As I interact daily with staff and our great customers, I often challenge my decisions; to be sure we’re doing the right things at the right time for the right reasons.

Sometimes, as the sun is coming up while I’m out on my 4:30 AM runs, I think about what is being passed on to the next generation of workers here at KHT, what can I do now that can positively impact our business in 5-10-20-30 years? With the rapid pace of science and technology changes coming, what should I plan for? (thirty years ago we really didn’t use computers much, and ten years ago, my iPhone wasn’t sitting within arm’s reach). And, if I left “instructions” for those that follow me, would they make a difference in our business or community? For an inventor, and successful business man in Paris, his instructions sure did.

In 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his third, and last will at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris. When it was opened, it caused great controversy, as he left much of his wealth for the establishment of a fund, to endow “prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind. According to Nobel, his sizeable estate was to be “invested in safe securities, and constitute a fund, the interest shall be divided into five equal parts:

  • one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics;
  • one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement;
  • one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine;
  • one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and
  • one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
  • also it is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not.” How cool is that!

Congrats to this year’s Nobel Prize winners:  nobelprize.org

And for our history buffs, (according to Wikipedia) here are some cool facts about Alfred Nobel and his award. Enjoy.

  • Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer. Known for inventing dynamite, Nobel also owned Bofors, which he had redirected from its previous role as primarily an iron and steel producer to a major manufacturer of cannon and other armaments.
  • Nobel held 355 different patents, dynamite being the most famous. After reading a premature obituary which condemned him for profiting from the sales of arms, he bequeathed his fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes. The synthetic element nobelium was named after him. His name also survives in modern-day companies such as Dynamit Nobel and AkzoNobel, which are descendants of mergers with companies Nobel himself established.
  • Following various business failures, Nobel’s father moved to Saint Petersburg in 1837 and grew successful there as a manufacturer of machine tools and explosives. He invented modern plywood and started work on the “torpedo”. Alfred attended school nearby and was an outstanding student, interested in chemistry, literature and the sciences.
  • As a young man, Nobel studied with chemist Nikolai Zinin; then, in 1850, he went to Paris to further the work, where he met Ascanio Sobrero, who had invented nitroglycerin three years before.
  • At age 18, he went to the United States for four years to study chemistry, collaborating for a short period under inventor John Ericsson, who designed the American Civil War ironclad USS Monitor. Nobel filed his first patent, an English patent for a gas meter, in 1857, while his first Swedish patent, which he received in 1863, was on ‘ways to prepare gunpowder’.
  • Nobel found that when nitroglycerin was incorporated in an absorbent inert substance like kieselguhr (diatomaceous earth) it became safer and more convenient to handle, and this mixture he patented in 1867 as ‘dynamite’.
  • Nobel demonstrated his explosive for the first time that year, at a quarry in Redhill, Surrey, England. In order to help reestablish his name and improve the image of his business from the earlier controversies associated with the dangerous explosives, Nobel had also considered naming the highly powerful substance “Nobel’s Safety Powder”, but settled with Dynamite instead, referring to the Greek word for “power” (δύναμις).
  • In 1888 Alfred’s brother Ludvig died while visiting Cannes and a French newspaper erroneously published Alfred’s obituary. It condemned him for his invention of dynamite and is said to have brought about his decision to leave a better legacy after his death. The obituary stated, Le marchand de la mort est mort (“The merchant of death is dead”) and went on to say, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” Alfred (who never had a wife or children) was disappointed with what he read and concerned with how he would be remembered.
  • The prize ceremonies take place annually in Stockholm, Sweden (with the exception of the peace prize, which is held in Oslo, Norway). Each recipient, or laureate, receives a gold medal, a diploma, and a sum of money that has been decided by the Nobel Foundation – as of 2012, each prize was worth about US$1.2 million, along with custom artwork depicting the prize contribution. The Nobel Prize is widely regarded as the most prestigious award available in the fields of literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, peace, and economics.
  • The Nobel Foundation was founded as a private organization on June 29, 1900, with the first award given in 1901. Its function is to manage the finances and administration of the Nobel Prizes. Brothers Robert and Ludvig Nobel were involved in the oil business in Azerbaijan, and according to Swedish historian E. Bargengren, who accessed the Nobel family archives, it was this “decision to allow withdrawal of Alfred’s money from Baku that became the decisive factor that enabled the Nobel Prizes to be established”.
  • The Foundation is not involved in the process of selecting the Nobel laureates. In many ways, the Nobel Foundation is similar to an investment company, in that it invests Nobel’s money to create a solid funding base for the prizes and is exempt from all taxes in Sweden and from investment taxes in the United States.
  • According to the statutes, the Foundation consists of a board of five Swedish or Norwegian citizens, with its seat in Stockholm. The Chairman of the Board is appointed by the Swedish King in Council, with the other four members appointed by the trustees of the prize-awarding institutions. An Executive Director is chosen from among the board members, a Deputy Director is appointed by the King in Council, and two deputies are appointed by the trustees.
  • Nomination forms are sent by the Nobel Committee to about 3,000 individuals, usually in September the year before the prizes are awarded. These individuals are generally prominent academics working in a relevant area. Regarding the Peace Prize, inquiries are also sent to governments, former Peace Prize laureates, and current or former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. About 300 nominees are selected each year, and all nomination records for a prize are sealed for 50 years from the awarding of the prize.
  • Except for the Peace Prize, the Nobel Prizes are presented in Stockholm, Sweden, at the annual Prize Award Ceremony on 10 December, the anniversary of Nobel’s death. The recipients’ lectures are normally held in the days prior to the award ceremony. The Peace Prize and its recipients’ lectures are presented at the annual Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo, Norway, usually on 10 December. The award ceremonies and the associated banquets are typically major international events.
  • The highlight of the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm occurs when each Nobel laureate steps forward to receive the prize from the hands of the King of Sweden. In Oslo, the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee presents the Nobel Peace Prize in the presence of the King of Norway.



How Big Is Your Pond?


When was the last time you thought about the size of your pond?

Accomplished author and speaker Seth Godin, posted this very question recently in his blog, and it ‘got me a thinkin’. According to Seth, ‘there’s no doubt that the ‘big fish’ in the pond gets respect, more attention and more than its fair share of business as a result’. He writes that ‘the hard part of being a big fish in a little pond isn’t about being the right sized fish, it’s really about finding the right sized pond.’ Too big and you’ll find yourself stagnating and not growing – to small and you become lunch for someone else.

Here at KHT our goal has never been to be the “biggest fish” in the pond, rather our overriding passion has been, and always will be, to be the very best! Years ago, we challenged ourselves to strategically build our capacity and services. We invested in new and bigger buildings, upgraded equipment, faster processing cycles, timely delivery and really made a commitment to the science behind our distortion sensitive thermal processing (click HERE to meet my awesome lab geeks). For us, it’s made more sense to get better at finding OUR right pond, and not trying to be ‘the biggest fish’. We cast aside barriers and focused on a pond where we can do great work and make a difference for our customers, our employees and the communities we serve.

We call it “Solving Your PIA (Pain in the @#$) Jobs!™”

As Seth writes, ‘too often, we’re attracted to a marketplace (a pond) that’s huge and enticing, then trying to be a big fish everywhere.’ The hard reality is that when spending all of our time chasing the ‘big fish dream’, we often lose sight of what is most important, taking care of our pond.

So, if you’re caught in the net (get it?) of trying to find your right-sized pond, when in doubt, don’t worry so much about scale and foolish reach – just find the pond that’s right for you and your business success. I promise, with focus and commitment, your customers will be delighted.

I’m pretty sure we have – and the water is great!! Grab your suit and jump in with us – and keep sending us your PIA (Pain in the @#$) Jobs!™ – we love ‘em. And, with all this talk of ‘fish and ponds’, for my fishing buddies out there, here is the latest Ohio Fall Fishing news from Outdoor News.




What Signals Are You Sending When Outperforming Expectations?


TOP ROW L TO R: The golden record being mounted onto Voyager in a clean room. Titan IIIE launch vehicle carrying Voyager launched on September 5, 1977, from Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral. Voyager in space. BOTTOM ROW L: The Golden Record. BOTTOM ROW MIDDLE TOP: One of the images on the record of how humans eat and drink (the guy on the right is pouring water into his mouth from a coffee pot. Really? I use a hose.) BOTTOM ROW MIDDLE BOTTOM: An image of Jupiter sent back from Voyager 1. BOTTOM ROW R: The ultimate Box Set. The golden Record is being produced as three vinyl records of the sounds and a book of the images as well as the Voyager story. You can only get this from a KickStarter project HERE. Read more

What’s The Meaning Behind Your Mark?


(Top two rows) A source of company and family pride. The KHT gear & flame mark.
(Bottom two rows) A source of pride in this great country. The Great Seal of the United States in development and in use today.


Here at Kowalski Heat Treating, we’re really proud of our company name and logo mark. Designed by Dad and Mom, and updated over the years, it is a simple representation of a gear and a flame, initially denoting heat treating and the symbiotic relationship with the manufacturing world. It also uses our black and red “branding”, and after 40 years I am still thrilled to see our logo! (Hey that’s us!)

When we use it as our letterhead, put it on a mug, hang it on our buildings or stamp it into our work, it embodies the virtues we hold dear – teamwork, family, quality, honesty, reliability, hard work, friendship, trust – and a little bit of fun! I’m guessing, like the mark you use at your place, our “logo” is shorthand for everything we do for our customers – sort of our “KHT Stamp of Quality” and recognition of the great partnership as We specialize in those PIA (Pain in the @%$) Jobs!™ every day (This is now trademarked!!!!)

On this day in 1782, a very special event took place – the first official use of the Great Seal of the United States. Like our KHT logo, it’s filled with history, purpose and meaning. So for fun, I decided to look it up on Wikipedia (wow, what a story to be proud of). So, in this political season, it’s extra interesting to harken back and learn what our forefathers had in mind as they created our collective USA mark. Enjoy.


  • The Great Seal of the United States is used to authenticate certain documents issued by the U.S. federal government. The phrase is used both for the physical seal itself, kept by the U.S. Secretary of State, and more generally for the design impressed upon it.
  • The obverse (front) of the great seal is used as the national coat of arms of the United States. It is officially used on documents such as United States passports, military insignia, embassy placards, and various flags. As a coat of arms, the design has official colors; the physical Great Seal itself, as affixed to paper, is monochrome.
  • The design on the front of the seal is the coat of arms of the United States. The shield, though sometimes drawn incorrectly, has two main differences from the American flag. First, it has no stars on the blue chief and second, unlike the American flag, the outermost stripes are white, not red; so as not to violate the “heraldic rule of tincture” (now that’s something to look up!).
  • The supporter of the shield is a bald eagle with its wings outstretched (or “displayed,” in heraldic terms). From the eagle’s perspective, it holds a bundle of 13 arrows in its left talon, (referring to the 13 original states), and an olive branch in its right talon, together symbolizing that the United States has “a strong desire for peace, but will always be ready for war.” Although not specified by law, the olive branch is usually depicted with 13 leaves and 13 olives, again representing the 13 original states. The eagle has its head turned towards the olive branch, on its right side, said to symbolize a preference for peace. In its beak, the eagle clutches a scroll with the motto E pluribus unum (“Out of Many, One”). Over its head there appears a “glory” with 13 mullets (stars) on a blue field. In the current (and several previous) dies of the great seal, the 13 stars above the eagle are arranged in rows of 1-4-3-4-1, forming a six-pointed star.
  • The 1782 resolution adopting the seal blazons the image on the reverse as “A pyramid unfinished. In the zenith an eye in a triangle, surrounded by a glory, proper.” The pyramid is conventionally shown as consisting of 13 layers to refer to the 13 original states. The adopting resolution provides that it is inscribed on its base with the date MDCCLXXVI (1776, the year of the United States Declaration of Independence) in Roman numerals. Where the top of the pyramid should be, the Eye of Providence watches over it. Two mottos appear: Annuit cœptis signifies that Providence has “approved of (our) undertakings.” Novus ordo seclorum, freely taken from Virgil, is Latin for “a new order of the ages.” The reverse has never been cut (as a seal) but appears, for example, on the back of the one-dollar bill.
  • The primary official explanation of the symbolism of the great seal was given by Charles Thomson secretary of the Continental Congress (1774–1789) upon presenting the final design for adoption by Congress. He wrote:

The Escutcheon is composed of the chief & pale, the two most honorable ordinaries. The Pieces, paly, represent the several states all joined in one solid compact entire, supporting a Chief, which unites the whole & represents Congress. The Motto alludes to this union. The pales in the arms are kept closely united by the chief and the Chief depends upon that union & the strength resulting from it for its support, to denote the Confederacy of the United States of America & the preservation of their union through Congress. The colours of the pales are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valor, and Blue, the colour of the Chief signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice. The Olive branch and arrows denote the power of peace & war which is exclusively vested in Congress. The Constellation denotes a new State taking its place and rank among other sovereign powers. The Escutcheon is born on the breast of an American Eagle without any other supporters to denote that the United States of America ought to rely on their own Virtue. On the Reverse, the pyramid signifies Strength and Duration: The Eye over it & the Motto allude to the many signal interpositions of providence in favour of the American cause. The date underneath is that of the Declaration of Independence and the words under it signify the beginning of the new American Era, which commences from that date.

  • In the Department of State, the term “Great Seal” refers to a physical mechanism which is used by the department to affix the seal to official government documents. This mechanism includes not only the die (metal engraved with a raised inverse image of the seal), but also the counter die), the press, and cabinet in which it is housed. There have been several presses used since the seal was introduced, but none of the mechanisms used from 1782 through 1904 have survived. The seal, and apparently its press, was saved when Washington, D.C. was burned in 1814 though no one knows by whom.
  • The press in use today was made in 1903 by R. Hoe & Co’s chief cabinetmaker Frederick S. Betchley in conjunction with the 1904 die, with the cabinet being made of mahogany.
  • The seal can only be affixed by an officer of the Department of State, under the authority of the Secretary of State. To seal a document, first a blank paper wafer is glued onto its front in a space provided for it. The document is then placed between the die and counter die, with the wafer lined up between them. Holding the document with one hand, the weighted arm of the press is pulled with the other, driving the die down onto the wafer, impressing the seal in relief. When envelopes containing letters need to be sealed, the wafer is imprinted first and then glued to the sealed envelope. It is used approximately 2,000 to 3,000 times a year.
  • Documents which require the seal include treaty ratifications, international agreements, appointments of ambassadors and civil officers, and communications from the President to heads of foreign governments. The seal was once required on presidential proclamations, and on some now-obsolete documents such as exequaturs and Mediterranean passports.
  • On August 4, 1945, a delegation from the Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union presented a carved wooden plaque of the Great Seal to U.S. Ambassador W. Averell Harriman, as a “gesture of friendship” to the USSR’s allies of World War II. Concealed inside was a covert remote listening device called The Thing. It hung in the ambassador’s Moscow residential study for seven years, until it was exposed in 1952 during the tenure of Ambassador George F. Kennan.
  • Some conspiracy theories state that the Great Seal shows a sinister influence by Freemasonry in the founding of the United States. Such theories usually claim that the Eye of Providence (found, in the Seal, above the pyramid) is a common Masonic emblem, and that the Great Seal was created by Freemasons. These claims, however, misstate the facts. According to David Barrett, a Masonic researcher, the Eye seems to have been used only sporadically by the Masons in those decades, and was not adopted as a common Masonic symbol until 1797, several years after the Great Seal of the United States had already been designed.

If this resonates with you, give me a call and let me know about “your” mark and what it means to your employees and company.




The Sounds of Fall


(Top L to R) Contrasts: A leather football used in a 1932 college football game and the Wilson X Connected Football that, with an iPhone app, will give stats about your throw, such as distance, velocity, spiral efficiency, spin rate, and whether the pass was caught or dropped. Released to stores yesterday.
(Bottom L to R) Leather football helmet from 1917. The Vince Lombardi trophy. And, well, you know.


The other day, while working in the yard, I heard a familiar sound – the high school marching band music was loud and clear. It immediately made me think of Friday night football games and also back to my HS days – old friends, teammates, and best of all, playing football. I was lucky enough to play football in HS – at a pretty competitive school named St. Ed’s (current D-1 State champions – brag, brag – yeah!). For me, football had so many fun and memorable moments – plus, the absolutely thrill of watching my four daughters perform on the Bay High Rockettes dance drill team or the marching band, and yes they could hear me cheering from the stands!

So, like I normally do, I thought I’d do a little digging, and see where that funky football shape, this crazy game and everything “Friday Night” came from, along with some fun trivia – enjoy.

Where did the football come from? American football may have evolved from soccer and rugby, but it turns out that the football was never truly designed, it just sort of happened. Nicknamed “the “pigskin”, it’s not made of pig skin at all, but is, in fact, made from cowhide. Of course, popular speculation has it that the leather exterior of the football was once made from the tanned skin of a pig, but it’s more likely that the football was made from a pig’s bladder. We may never know.

What about the football shape? Equally mysterious is the shape of the ball. If the sport evolved from soccer and rugby, how and when did the football gain its distinct shape – technically known as a prolate spheroid? Well, it turns out that the football was never truly designed, it just sort of happened. According to Henry Duffield, a man who witnessed a game between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869, largely considered to be the first intercollegiate game:

“The ball was not an oval but was supposed to be completely round. It never was, though — it was too hard to blow up right. The game was stopped several times that day while the teams called for a little key from the sidelines. They used it to unlock the small nozzle which was tucked into the ball, and then took turns blowing it up. The last man generally got tired and they put it back in play somewhat lopsided.”

Where did the game start? Initially, football was a very different game – or perhaps I should say games. There were kicking games and running games, but as those two games began to merge together, as rules began to standardize, the ball began to slightly stretch out in order to accommodate more types of use, when the forward pass was introduced to football in 1906.
As the game continued to change, the ball evolved to accommodate new rules and new plays. Most notably, in the 1930s, it became longer and slimmer as the forward pass became a more dominant–and more encouraged–part of the game. –

Where did the ball get its white stripes? In 1956, the white balls traditionally used in night games were replaced with a standard daytime football circled by two white stripes. Though advancements in stadium lighting have made night balls unnecessary, NCAA games still use the white-striped ball.

Where did the ball name “the Duke” come from? In 1941, the official football used by the NFL was nicknamed “The Duke,” after the Wellington Mara, whose father named him after the Duke of Wellington. That name played a key role in establishing the relationship between the NFL and Wilson Sporting Goods, the company that has for more than 70 years produced the official football of the NFL. “The Duke” was in play until 1969 when professional football reorganized. In 2006, National Football League owners decided to return the name of the official game ball to “The Duke” in honor of Wellington Mara’s passing the previous years.

What are the specs on a regular football? An NFL ball shall consist of a urethane bladder inflated to 12.5 to 13.5 pounds and enclosed in a pebble grained, tan leather outer shell designed to provide a good grip – even in the rain. The ball must be 11-11.25 inches long, have a long circumference between 28- 28.5 inches, a short circumference between 21-21.25 inches; and it must weigh 14 to 15 ounces. The variation in the measurements is due to the fact that all NFL footballs are made by hand. Since 1955 every NFL football has been made at Wilson’s 130-person factory in Ada, Ohio, which produces up to 4,000 footballs a day.

These NFL footballs are born on the backs of Midwestern cows from Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, which are brought to a tannery in Ada and treated with a top secret football-weather-optimizing tanning recipe. Each football is composed of four separate pieces with a single cowhide producing ten balls. The construction of the bladder is also a secret process, with each synthetic bladder produced by one man. From pigskin to cowhide, organic bladder to synthetic rubber, the ball has changed and the game itself has evolved into a completely different animal.

What happened in “deflategate”? The official rules of the National Football League require footballs to be inflated to a gauge pressure between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch (psi) or 86 to 93 kPa, when measured by the referees. Per the pressure-temperature law, there is a positive correlation between the temperature and pressure of a gas with a fixed volume and mass. Thus, if a football were inflated to the minimum pressure of 12.5 psi at room temperature, the pressure would drop below the minimum as the gases inside cooled to the colder ambient temperature on the playing field. While footballs deflate naturally in colder temperatures, a deliberately under-inflated football may be easier to grip, throw, and catch, or inhibit fumbling, especially in cold rainy conditions. The 2015 AFC Championship Game football tampering scandal, commonly referred to as Deflategate, was a National Football League (NFL) controversy involving the allegation that the New England Patriots tampered with footballs used in the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts on January 18, 2015.

What is the longest recorded football punt and field goal? The longest punt is the 98-yard punt by New York’s Steve O’Neal in 1969. The kick began from his team’s 1-yard line and was downed at the Broncos’ 1-yard line. It is the longest possible punt to be recorded that is NOT a touchback. The longest field goal in NFL history is 64 yards by Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos in 2013. The longest field goal in NCAA history is 67 yards, accomplished four times, most recently by Tom Odle for Fort Hays State in 1988. The NCAA record for longest field goal without a tee and with the more-narrow modern goal posts is 65 yards by Martin Gramatica of Kansas State in 1998. Nick Rose, a senior kick for the University of Texas obliterated all of those with an 80-yard field goal in practice.

Are signed footballs worth much? While original football player cards can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars, most signed footballs carry lower value. Some collector favorites are Johnny Unitus and John Elway.

If I’m a cow, what are my odds? It takes about 600 cows to make one full season’s worth of NFL footballs. At Wilson Sporting Goods Company, they make more than 2 million footballs of all sorts every year. A cow has only a 1 in 17,420,000 chance of becoming an NFL football that is used in the Super Bowl.

Just fun trivia:

  • Only two players have caught, rushed, and thrown a touchdown against the same team in the same game: Walter Payton in 1979 and David Patton in 2001.
  • Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett is the only player to rush for a 99-yard touchdown, in 1983.
  • Just two years after finishing their careers, approximately 78% of NFL player go bankrupt.  In 1892, former Yale star William “Pudge” Heffelfinger became the first recognized pro player when he accepted $500 to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association.
  • Though football games usually last around 3 hours, the ball is typically in play for only 11 minutes. Around 56% of the game on TV is devoted to replays.
  • In an NFL game, as many as 75 minutes, or about 60% of total TV air time (excluding commercials), is spent on shots of players standing on the line of scrimmage, huddling, or just walking around between snaps.
  • The average age of an NFL cheerleader is 25 and NFL cheerleaders typically make $50–$75 a game. However, by the time they spend money on makeup, hair accessories, dance classes, etc., they end up losing money. During broadcast NFL games, cheerleaders are on TV for only about 3 seconds.
  • Coaches and referees receive around 7% of the face time in a game.
  • Instant replay became commonplace in the mid-1960s, which helped fill the idle moments of the game. By the 1990s, some football broadcasts showed about 100 replays per game.
  • There are nearly 3 million sports industry jobs in the U.S, which is approximately 1% of the population.
  • Contrary to common opinion, the “G” on the Green Bay Packers helmet doesn’t stand for Green Bay. Rather, it stands for “Greatness.”
  • The huddle was invented by Paul Hubbard. A legally deaf quarterback from Gallaudet University, he “huddled” other players together so he could hear them better and to protect them from the other teams’ prying eyes.



I’m So Very Proud

Superhero, young businessman tearing his shirt off isolated on g

As you know, Labor Day (and what has now extended to become a whole weekend) honors the American labor movement, the American “working” spirit and our shared love of country.

When it comes to great workers, none can be more accurate or true than here at Kowalski Heat Treating.

I am so very proud of my team here at KHT. Every day I get the opportunity to witness their passion, spirit, teamwork and love of problem solving. I’m blessed to be associated with such great people and love to see everyone “rally” when a PIA (Pain In The @#$) Job! comes in, all focused on getting it right. Whether it’s happily helping a customer on the phone, delivering perfect goods on time or triple-checking a job on the processing floor, we all enjoy a certain team bond that’s really grown from the very first day Dad opened the doors back in 1975.

So, for us, Labor Day weekend is always a bit extra special – it’s part of our KHT team DNA, present and past.

May God bless all of our staff, customers, vendors and partners, and all of their families.

Enjoy this weekend – get your family and friends together – cook out on the grill and just have some good old fashion “American” fun together.

And have an extra safe holiday, as we turn the corner on summer and head into fall.




“Hey Jude” – Happy Birthday!

jude 768 blog

You can watch the “Hey Jude” video HERE.  The video was first broadcast on David Frost’s Frost On Sunday show, four days after it was filmed. At that point transmission was in black and white although the promo was originally shot in colour. It was first aired in America a month later on 6 October 1968, on The Smotheres Brothers Comedy Hour. And get The Beatles 1 Video Collection HERE. 


“Hey Jude”, released August 26th, 1968, is a song written by Paul McCartney, and also credited to John Lennon of the Beatles. The ballad, evolved from “Hey Jules”, a song McCartney wrote to comfort John Lennon’s son, Julian during his parent’s divorce. The song begins with a verse-bridge structure, incorporating McCartney’s vocal performance and piano accompaniment – with a now famous shift to a fade-out coda that lasts for more than four minutes.


For our trivia and music buffs, here is some interesting trivia to go along with this great song (thanks Wikipedia!)

  • “Hey Jude” was the first single from the Beatles’ record label Apple Records. More than seven minutes in length, it was at the time the longest single ever to top the British charts
  • It spent nine weeks at number one in the United States, the longest for any Beatles single and tied the “all-time” record, at the time, for the longest run at the top of the US charts.
  • The single has sold approximately eight million copies and is frequently included on professional critics’ lists of the greatest songs of all time. In 2013, Billboard named it the 10th biggest song of all time.
  • In May 1968, John Lennon and his wife Cynthia Lennon separated because of John’s affair with Yoko Ono. The following month Paul drove out to visit Cynthia and John’s son, Julian, at Kenwood, the family’s home in Weybridge. (Cynthia had been part of the Beatles‘ social circle since before the band’s rise to fame in 1963).
  • McCartney later said he found it “a bit much for them suddenly to be personae non gratae and out of my life”. Cynthia Lennon recalled of McCartney’s surprise visit: “I was touched by his obvious concern for our welfare … On the journey down he composed ‘Hey Jude’ in the car. I will never forget Paul’s gesture of care and concern in coming to see us.”
  • The song’s original title was “Hey Jules”, and it was intended to comfort Julian Lennon from the stress of his parents’ separation. McCartney later said, “I knew it was not going to be easy for him”, and that he changed the name to “Jude” “because I thought that sounded a bit better”.
  • According to music journalist Chris Hunt, in the weeks after writing the song, McCartney “tested” his latest composition on anyone too polite to refuse. And that meant everyone. On 30 June, after recording the Black Dyke Mills Band’s rendition of his instrumental, McCartney stopped at a village in Bedfordshire and performed “Hey Jude” at a local pub.
  •  When introducing the composition to Lennon, McCartney assured him that he would “fix” the line “the movement you need is on your shoulder”, reasoning that “it’s a stupid expression; it sounds like a parrot.” Lennon replied: “You won’t, you know. That’s the best line in the song.” (McCartney retained the phrase and he later said of his subsequent live performances of the song: “that’s the line when I think of John, and sometimes I get a little emotional during that moment.”
  • Although McCartney originally wrote “Hey Jude” for Julian, John Lennon thought it had actually been written for him. In a 1980 interview, Lennon stated that he “always heard it as a song to me” and contended that, on one level, McCartney was giving his blessing to Lennon and Ono’s relationship, while, on another, he was disappointed to be usurped as Lennon’s friend and songwriting partner.
  • Music critic and author Tim Riley writes: “If the song is about self-worth and self-consolation in the face of hardship, the vocal performance itself conveys much of the journey. He begins by singing to comfort someone else, finds himself weighing his own feelings in the process, and finally, in the repeated refrains that nurture his own approbation, he comes to believe in himself.”


And for our musically inclined:

  • “Hey Jude” begins with McCartney singing lead vocals and playing the piano. The patterns he plays are based on three chords: F, C, and B flat (I, V and IV).  The main chord progression is “flipped on its head”, for the coda, since the C chord is replaced by E flat.  Everett comments that McCartney’s melody over the verses borrows in part from John Ireland’s 1907 liturgical piece Te Deum, as well as (with the first change to a B flat chord) suggesting the influence of the Drifters’ 1960 hit “Save the Last Dance for Me”.
  • The second verse of the song adds accompaniment from acoustic guitar and tambourine. Tim Riley writes that, with the “restrained tom-tom and cymbal fill” that introduces the drum part, “the piano shifts downward to add a flat seventh to the tonic chord, making the downbeat of the bridge the point of arrival (‘And any time you feel the pain‘).”
  • At the end of each bridge, McCartney sings a brief phrase (“Na-na-na na …”), supported by an electric guitar fill, before playing a piano fill that leads to the next verse. This vocal phrase serves to “reorient the harmony for the verse as the piano figure turns upside down into a vocal aside”. Additional musical details, such as tambourine on the third verse and subtle harmonies accompanying the lead vocal, are added to sustain interest throughout the four-verse, two-bridge song.
  • The verse-bridge structure persists for approximately three minutes, after which the band leads into a four-minute-long coda, consisting of nineteen rounds of the song’s double plagal cadence. During this coda, the rest of the band, backed by an orchestra that also provides backing vocals, repeats the phrase “Na-na-na na” followed by the words “hey Jude” until the song gradually fades out. In his analysis of the composition, musicologist Alan Pollack comments on the unusual structure of “Hey Jude”, in that it uses a “binary form that combines a fully developed, hymn-like song together with an extended, mantra-like jam on a simple chord progression”.
  • Riley considers that the coda’s repeated chord sequence (I-VII-IV-I) “answers all the musical questions raised at the beginnings and ends of bridges”, since “The flat seventh that posed dominant turns into bridges now has an entire chord built on it.” This three-chord refrain allows McCartney “a bedding … to leap about on vocally”, so he ad-libs his vocal performance for the rest of the song.


BONUS:  Can you guess the name of the single on the flip side of the 45?  Be the first caller with the right answer and I’ll send you a Kowalski collector t-shirt!