For the Record

More than a few catty comments

Random thoughts while pondering whether members of our reporting staff paid off my cat to bat at my pen and flip her tail across their stories while I try to edit them:

Do you suppose the new ultra-bright lights in Marion National’s time and temperature sign are harbingers of ultra-high temperatures to come?

While brings us to another burning issue — or, in a more political correct sense, a recycling conundrum: We know how to retire worn-out flags, but what do you do with an old, abandoned Bible?

We found one while cleaning an upstairs storeroom of several decades of bygone treasures, some predating not just the employment but also the birth of staffers.

Not only was the Bible long ago abandoned. From its “placed by the Gideons” bookplate, it also appears to have been stolen from some hotel. I suspect the thief can be forgiven for that transgression, but how do we get rid of the evidence of his or her sin without earning a few days in Purgatory?

Purgatory is pretty well where Marion Reservoir seems to find itself after yet another alert for toxic blue-green algae — a guest that long ago wore out its welcome by camping out each summer and frightening away tourists the local economy depends upon.

From all the “for sale” signs around town, that economy doesn’t seem too strong, but at least one “for sale” sign — on the Wheeler Building — has gone down, giving hope that a prime example of downtown architecture will be spared the fate of others that decayed while standing empty.

Decay is actually one of the prime ingredients for energy self-sufficiency foreseen by former Peabody resident Stanley Manahan, who dropped by last week. A retired chemistry professor at the University of Missouri, he shared copies of two of his dozen or so books — a non-fiction environmental chemistry text and a fictionalized account of life in Marion and Peabody.

With our knowledge (or lack thereof) of chemistry, it was sometimes hard to tell which was fiction and which wasn’t, though we believe the reminiscences of small-town life in “Lat Me Thank: Fact-Based Fiction of the Sociology of Rural Kansas” is the book most of us would prefer to read.

On the other hand, Stanley’s other books might be equally beneficial. All it would take to make the county energy self-sufficient, he says, is to use wind power to generate hydrogen by electrolysis from water, then mix that with various agricultural cuttings to create all manner of fuels, from gasoline to diesel.

In the small world department, it turns out Stanley studied chemistry with two Marion City Council members — Jerry Dieter, while the two were pursuing graduate studies at KU, and Mary Olson, while Stanley and Mary were in high school in Peabody. We aren’t holding our breath, but perhaps such common bonds can be the catalyst for improved chemistry on the council.

Civic chemistry will be among the things two new employees starting this week will hope to improve. The rhyming “double O’s” — Oliver Good and Olivia Haselwood — began work Monday and either already have or soon will be looking to move to town with their families.

Oliver (the taller, bearded one from Marion County) has a creative writing degree from K-State, did graduate work in graphic design at KU, and will be working mainly with advertising.

Olivia (the shorter, longer-haired one from Butler County) is a newlywed former Wichita Eagle intern who studied journalism under the legendary Les Anderson at Wichita State and whose insurance agent husband just received his MBA. She’ll work mainly with news.

Both will be eager to get more involved in (or, in Oliver’s case, re-involved with) civic affairs here — something my feline companion, Agate, has long been a scaredy cat to do.

Still, despite not having a name beginning with “Oliv— —,” Agate does seem to be angling for some sort of appointment to our staff.

In recent days, as she is doing right now, she’s developed the habit of curling up and purring atop any copy of the Marion County Record left on any sort of semi-flat surface.

All other newspapers, especially competing ones, similarly positioned seem instead to attract her fangs and claws, as she with great pre-employment determination attempts to shred them into small piles of pulp.

Despite her editorial interference, perhaps there is a place for her on the staff after all.

— ERIC MEYER

 

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