Georges de Mestral and Velcro

We had a frost last night but I think the dahlias were temporarily spared. Interesting that nature provided the idea for Velcro…

Velcro, what would we do without it? I pondered that question as I put on my grandson’s shoes yesterday, remembering when my kids were young, how time consuming it was to put on their shoes, tie them carefully, only to note that their laces were undone. I would have to corral them and retie them.

Those were the days. You forget how much time you spent on doing something like that. You forget how wonderful this seemingly simple invention was. All of it came about because a man was walking in the woods near Geneva, Switzerland, found his clothing entangled in a patch of burrs, and then did some work to see why the burrs stuck.

Here we are talking about a francophone, Georges de Mestral, whose discovery goes back to 1941. Years of work on the subject took place and then in 1948 he invented Velcro. Interesting because the word velcro is a combination of the two French words ‘velours’ or velvet and ‘crochet’ or hook. What a simple yet brilliant discovery.

If only it had become common for shoes in the eighties!

This man had his first patent by the age of twelve for a toy airplane and later became an engineer. Think of the legacy of this man and the impact he has had on the world. One of his other inventions was a very popular asparagus peeler.

What sparked my thinking of Velcro was the umbrella that I was putting back together after drying in the back of my car. I picked it up and realized that like so many other umbrellas, Velcro was used in the fastening. I remembered immediately the button fastener that I used when I was younger on umbrellas and how often, somehow the fabric stretched so that it was unusable. The Velcro fastening usually has a strip long enough so that the stretching is never an issue.

You see something like that and you wonder. What will I be remembered by? I can only imagine.

Posted in Inventions, Legacies, Life in general, Swiss, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

A jaunt to Hocking Hills

This is what my iPhone noted about my trek to Old Man’s Cave.

My hiking friend and I went to Starved Rock in Illinois last year, this year we went to a similar place in southern Ohio not far from my alma mater. MK and I had visited this place in the 70s and we both had fond memories of it.

Essentially, as I found out this past weekend, this is a more compact version of Starved Rock, but on steroids. The hiking trails can be quite long in the Hocking Hills but for the main attractions, it is possible to get within extreme visual beauty within moments of stepping on the trail. My thoughts here are nothing more than comparing apples and oranges as each park has something spectacular to offer, both for the ear (in lack of annoying sounds due to people and machinery accompanied by the sounds of water movement) and eye (stone formations and cliffs formed by water moving through sedimentary rock). In the case of Starved Rock, it is formed by the Illinois River (which I surprising found out is formed by the Des Plaines and Kankakee Rivers coming together) and Hocking Hills Old Man’s Cave is formed by Old Man’s Creek (a tributary of the Hocking River that flows into the Ohio River).

Hocking Hills is somewhat remote, south of Columbus, Ohio and in an area that has long suffered from a poor economic situation, yet full of the beauty of the foothills of the Appalachians. The whole region always calls me back for a ‘fix’ of sorts. I reveled in the beautiful hills in the six years of academic work that I spent there (BA and MA). When I go back, I always feel renewed. It reminds you of what is really important in your life and how nature is to be treasured and revered. I was lucky to have met Mary Kay while in Athens, Ohio and grad school and to have two of our sons get their degrees there as well.

Despite its location, the Hocking Hills State Park has over two million visitors a year. Compare that to a less remote Starved Rock with about two and a half million. Compare that to Yellowstone: in 2017 it had its second highest attendance rate of over four million people; Yosemite gets over four million each year as well.

The biggest thing of note when comparing Starved Rock and Hocking Hills is that you see more beauty within a very short period of time and I found that the manmade steps and bridges far more fitting with the natural beauty. The signage was clearer and the park, despite the intense amount of visitors, was sparkling and clean.

I know it was a long trip of about 450 miles each way, but it was well worth it. If it hadn’t been this late in the fall, we could have done some hiking on Friday (especially if we had left earlier than 8:00 AM here in the Chicago area). We arrived around 4:00 PM in the Logan area and it was soon to be dark.

We had dinner in Lancaster, Ohio and even caught of glimpse of General Sherman’s home on the main drag.

I cannot wait to get back!

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Scotch Tape

Sometimes a rare commodity in the Koerner household.

Scotch tape seems to be something that disappears from our house with great frequency. It is almost as if we cannot keep it stocked. We have several places where we keep it and yet, it disappears.

The culprit? Our grandkids.

The girls are much more into the artwork, for whatever reason, and two of the three girls are really into scotch tape. Be it for making signs and posting them or just putting pages together, it happens all the time. The recent washer box was an example of a huge fun scotch tape time that even evolved into duct tape.

Was I prepared for this? No. Having had three boys, there was some usage of tape but not on this level. To be honest, I am not sure it is a girl thing as much as it is the two personalities of the oldest granddaughter and the youngest granddaughter. They are a lot alike and not sisters, but cousins. I am guessing that part of it is that they are the first children in their basic family unit and that that has something to do with it. So what is it with the idea of a firstborn and scotch tape?

Meanwhile, try and find tape in our house. We even have a last holdout, the movable wrapping center that has a drawer where it resides, but let me tell you that the grandkids have found that one and use it all the time.

My next job, to make sure I have that tape on the list and get some more as periodically, even I need some scotch tape!

Posted in Art, Grandkids, Life in general, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

The Police Car

I was driving the other day and I realized that one of my Deerfield police friends (we know so many because of the bad neighbor – Malbor) trailing me as I was leaving Deerfield. No matter how innocent I am, I always feel guilty. I have always been this way. Call me into your office, if you are my boss, and I will have the same reaction. It is as if it is in my DNA. Having had a Caligula-like department chairman a few years ago when I was teaching in the high school only made this worse and when I went in to talk to my current department chairman at the Community College, I had to explain to her my phobia. She detected my reaction. My Caligula-like department chairman once gave me a copy of my evaluation way after the fact and he did it just as I was leaving the school for a week of vacation. I stewed and couldn’t sleep for a week. What really ticked me off was that he had the audacity to completely lie as he criticized my teaching of a grammar point that my lesson plan book pointed out to be a fake reality.

Enough of this. Although malbor did call the police on us for Stewie’s supposed barking, the police haven’t really been on our minds. Officer Wes talked to Mary Kay last week and he apologized for not bringing Stewie treats. He is well aware of the stupidity of our crazy neighbor to the south.

Anyway, all of this brought me to the little Police Car that we purchased for the grandkids years ago. I found it on It was a great buy. I had wanted to buy one for our sons but at the time, it was not in the budget. As a kid, I remembered riding in exactly the same type of car and loving it. I never had one of my own; it was always at someone else’s home. Anyway, our three grandgirls have loved it, but our grandson, who is currently two and a half, loves it. Not only can he sit in it and move around, he recently started driving it around by pedaling. Soon he shall be able to reverse to get out of tricky situations where he is stopped.

That is what being tailed by a cop does to me, I think of things like this.

Posted in Grandchildcare, Grandkids, Life in general, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment


The glorious end of a four year old’s braid…

Snow is not necessarily unexpected in November, but it generally does not stay and last as a normal part of the weather scene. So we were not all that shocked when the gray skies unleashed the snowflakes. Our granddaughter was in disbelief when I told her and I quickly realized that her perception of “It is snowing,” means that there is snow on the ground. There wasn’t at that moment. It did surprisingly stay for a few minutes, maybe even longer than that, but it did inevitably melt.

As I am writing, I just sang three songs to our grandson, who is supposed to be sleeping. I was in the family room and heard the telltale stomping upstairs. I took a look at the Wi-Fi camera and sure enough, he had thrown just about everything out of the Pack and Play and was kicking up a storm. When I tell him in French to lie down, he does, it is absolutely hysterical, the girls wouldn’t have acquiesced to that command. I then sang him three songs that I traditionally sing to him as I put him down: Fais Dodo (Go to sleep), Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (in French), and You are my Sunshine. A few minutes have gone by and after several times of my saying, “Couche-toi,” he seems to finally be asleep. This is well over an hour after I initially put him down for a nap (I really hate that language construction and don’t know why I even use it). The putting into the Pack and Play followed lying on Uncle Bucky’s (Mike’s) bed and reading two long books and my song routine.

So much for my routine with the grandkids. Once he was down, it wasn’t long before I took his sister to her Pre-School situation. As usual, she was quiet during the whole trip and will be so when I go to pick her up to bring her home.

Meanwhile, outside, it is looking gloomy and the ground is wet.

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