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July 25, 2013

Retired Professor Sweeps Village Streets For The Good Of All


The (Findlay) Courier

North Baltimore, OH (AP) Some people sweep their house every day. Ralph Wolfe sweeps most of downtown North Baltimore every day before dawn.

Wolfe, 81, a retired English professor, takes his straw broom to two blocks of Main Street while most of his fellow villagers sleep.

``People say, `Why do you do this’? Well, Main Street is Main Street. People coming to town, that’s their (first) impression,’’ he said.

``I don’t want it to look like Hog Town or Trash City,’’ he said. ``Even if it’s in the street, I still think of that as a reflection on my house.’’

Sometime after 3 a.m. or so, Wolfe starts sweeping the sidewalk at his white brick house on South Main Street, his family’s home for 54 years, and works up one side of the street and down the other, picking up whatever folks left behind.

He also sweeps a little of two side streets and always in front of the post office.

Dr. Wolfe, on the job

Wolfe hasn’t gotten a dime for his decade of labor, unless, of course, it was dropped on the sidewalk. He often finds pennies, and occasionally nickels and dimes. Once, he found a $20 bill.

``So, it’s not completely selfless because I do get some benefits. I find a coin,’’ Wolfe said.

``I get aerobic exercise and walking, and then aesthetically (it helps). And later in the afternoon when I go out, I think, `Oh, doesn’t this look nice?’ But then I’ll find something, a napkin or piece of paper, and I have to pick it up, of course.’’

His pre-dawn timing corresponds with Main Street’s parking restrictions, and his internal clock.

``I saw my (doctor) and I told him, `Well, I don’t sleep eight hours anymore.’ He said, `Your body will sleep when it wants to sleep.’ So I wake up and it’s 3 o’clock. I think, `Oh, the street will be empty. I can go out and do that.’

``Sometimes I can do it in an hour or so ... but I’m always surprised when I get out there and I find a mess, like somebody has spilled an ice cream cone or something like that,’’ he said.

Cigarette butts account for most of the litter, Wolfe said.

``The smokers will go down the street and pitch their cigarettes out the window instead of putting it in the ashtray. And I have people who empty their ashtrays on the street,’’ he said. ``There will be a whole pile of cigarette butts.’’

It annoys him when people throw things on the ground when a trash can is nearby.

``I mean, just two feet away is a container to put it in,’’ he said. ``I don’t understand it at all.’’

His tools include a reflective shirt and vest, a straw broom and a long-handled dustpan. Usually there’s enough light from the streetlights to see by, but Wolfe also carries a flashlight.

He also takes along a screwdriver to remove any stray grass or weeds growing between the sidewalk cracks.

``I think, `Now, you are a nut.’ But then I think, `Well, somebody has to do it,’’’ he said.

When Wolfe completes his rounds, he returns home for breakfast, the newspapers, and a nap.

``So I get seven, eight hours of sleep, just not all at one time,’’ he said.

People thank him for his service to his village of about 3,400, he said.

``I’ve had people pass in the car and guys going early to work, and the mayor has told me he appreciates what I do,’’ Wolfe said.

The police know him, too, and usually just wave.

Born on a farm in Weston, 17 miles away, Wolfe grew up on a farm outside North Baltimore. The family moved to town in 1943 and his family opened a restaurant called Reds above the theater.

Wolfe earned a bachelor’s in education and master’s in English from nearby Bowling Green State University. He got his doctorate and taught at Indiana State University, before he returned to Bowling Green to teach summer classes and win a permanent position in the English Department.

Wolfe’s passion for film and his appreciation for writing and literature led him to be among the professors who developed a film studies program in the 1970s.

He is a distinguished teaching professor emeritus of English, Gish Professor of Film Studies, and curator of the Gish Film Theater and Gallery, which houses a collection of memorabilia from the careers of sisters and actresses Lillian and Dorothy Gish and other film stars associated with them.

Wolfe moved home to live with his mother in North Baltimore after his father’s death in 1967.

``She didn’t want to move,’’ he said. ``She loved this house. She loved the restaurant business, too.’’

In town, Wolfe has served on the library board for nearly 40 years and the library’s community room bears his name. He belongs to a number of other civic groups. So, lending a hand on Main Street is not new.

``Of course, the village cannot sweep every day,’’ he said. ``They couldn’t afford it, you know. So I decided, `Why not?’’’

Particle Bs Sighting Confirms Clue To Universe’s Origin


Associated Press

Geneva (AP) After a quarter-century of searching, scientists have nailed down how one particularly rare subatomic particle decays into something else, a discovery that adds certainty to our thinking about how the universe began and keeps running.

The world’s top particle physics lab said Friday it had measured the decay time of a particle known as a Bs (B sub s) meson into two other fundamental particles called muons, which are much heavier than but similar to electrons. It was observed as part of the reams of data coming from CERN’s $10 billion Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest atom smasher, on the Swiss-French border near Geneva.

The rare sighting at the European Center for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN, shows that the so-called standard model of particle physics is ``coming through with flying colors,’’ though it describes only 5 percent of the universe, said Pierluigi Campana, who leads one of the two main teams at CERN involved in the research.

Campana called the results an important development that helps confirm the standard model, a theory developed over the past half century to explain the basic building blocks of matter.

It applies to everything from galaxies and stars to the smallest microcosms, showing how they are thought to have come into being and continue to function. The results were formally unveiled at a major physics conference in Stockholm.

Also at the conference, an international team of scientists based at Japan’s Proton Accelerator Research Complex announced they have documented muon neutrinos transforming into electron neutrinos, a previously unknown third way that neutrinos can spontaneously change identity. Neutrinos are subatomic particles that are very hard to detect because they have extremely low mass and rarely interact with matter.

That breakthrough is ``a big deal,’’ said one of the neutrino collaboration leaders, University of California at Irvine physicist Henry Sobel, because explaining the matter-antimatter asymmetry in neutrinos may shed light on why everything from tiny forms of life to stars are made of matter, but there is almost no antimatter left in the universe. That remains one of the biggest mysteries of the universe, since the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter.

But researchers also have been looking for this particular rare decay from the Bs particle for a long time.
``This is a process that particle physicists have been trying to find for 25 years,’’ said Joe Incandela, leader of the second CERN team involved in the subatomic particle research. He called it a ``rare process involving a particle with a mass that is roughly 1,000 times smaller than the masses of the heaviest particles we are searching for now.’’

The standard model also predicted a new subatomic particle discovered last summer. The long-sought Higgs boson creates what scientists call a ``sticky’’ energy field that acts as a drag on other particles and gives them mass, without which particles wouldn’t hold together, and there would be no matter.

The newest research shows that only a few Bs particles per billion decay into pairs of muons, which was along the lines of what was predicted under the standard model. But because the Bs particle’s decay helps confirm an old theory, some scientists also expressed a bit of disappointment they had not found something completely unexpected or new.

``This is a victory for the standard model,’’ said Joel Butler of the United States’ Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, near Chicago. ``But we know the standard model is incomplete, so we keep trying to find things that disagree with it.’’

Native Artist Seeks To Redefine What It Is To Be An Indian


Lawrence Journal-World

Lawrence, KS (AP) Jodi Webster’s art seeks to portray American Indians in a way she says can be hard to find: the way they really are.

Indians aren’t always standing in a field in full ceremonial regalia. And they definitely aren’t running around with their hands in front of their mouths yelling, ``woo, woo, woo, woo, woo.’’

Webster’s Indians live in cities, wear sports jerseys and are involved in economic development and, sometimes, environmental controversy.

``This is who I am,’’ she says. ``And this is just a way of showing you all this diversity that’s in these tribes.’’

Webster, a Lawrence resident who expects to graduate from the University of Kansas this fall with a bachelor’s degree in drawing and painting, is starting to get some traction in the Indian art world, highlighted by an upcoming artist’s residency at the Santa Fe Indian Market, the Lawrence Journal-World reports.

More than 150,000 visitors and hundreds of artists are expected to attend the annual market, organized by Southwestern Association for Indian Arts. Webster, one of two artists chosen for residency fellowships, will spend August and September in Santa Fe interacting with and learning from other artists while pursuing her own work.

Especially for an artist who usually creates at her kitchen table, when she can get her husband, two kids and pet Chihuahua out of the way, the residency is a welcome opportunity.

An example of Ms. Webster’s work

Webster, a Ho-Chunk and Prairie Band Potawatomi Indian, grew up in Wisconsin, homeland of the woodland Ho-Chunk people.

While most of the other Indians there lived in the country, Webster’s family was one of only a handful living in town, Wisconsin Rapids. Her family was poor, she says, and racism was prevalent—she remembers white kids taunting her with those ``ugly’’ woo, woo, woos.

``The art was one of the things I could kind of revert to, because it doesn’t take a lot of money to create my artwork,’’ she says. ``It was a really good escape, a good way to center myself.’’

Some of Webster’s pieces are more serious than others.

A small, multi-colored screen print titled ``I’m Not That Kind of Indian’’ depicts a woman in traditional—and accurate—Ho-Chunk dress surrounded by feather-headdress-wearing, woo-woo-ing cartoon characters. She loved cartoons as a child, and still does, but remembers the sting of seeing the characters she was so fond of making fun of her heritage. In another piece, she comments on a planned mining operation by showing Indians harvesting wild rice in the traditional way while wearing gas masks.

Some juxtapose old with new in a lighthearted way.

A pair of portraits show her children, son Wabansi, 13, and daughter Shyla, 7, in city settings with part traditional, part urban clothing. In ``Bozho Kitty,’’ a smiling Shyla wears a traditional Ho-Chunk appliquÈd skirt with a bright-pink Hello Kitty T-shirt. In ``Wabansi: Lakeside Chicago-Beyond Swag,’’ her son wears a Chicago Bulls jersey with Potawatomi leggings and a traditional decorative bandolier bag.

Some of Webster’s work is less of a statement and more of an embrace; she’s especially passionate about the bright colors in traditional costumes.

``Fancy Dancer,’’ a stylized dancing figure repeated in different colors, captures the traditional garb’s vibrant colors and the stamina it takes to perform in hot sun and heavy costumes.

John Torres Nez, chief operating officer of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, says the 92-year-old Indian Market traditionally has focused on Southwestern art. Leaders are now trying to diversify and attract artists like Webster from other regions.

``They bring an aesthetic that is different from the Southwest,’’ he says.

Torres Nez says the residency, a partnership with the Santa Fe Art Institute, enables artists to focus on their work, interact with other artists and soak in Santa Fe’s rich art culture with an extended stay in a city that could otherwise be cost-prohibitive.

After the residency and finishing her undergraduate degree, Webster says, she’d like to pursue a master’s. Her goal is to continue making art that helps celebrate her people and break stereotypes.

``It’s important for me ... to show my children that if I’m really into something, if I’m talented, to take that as far as I can,’’ she says.


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