Friday, November 13, 2009

3 Local Mysteries

1) Mysterious Subscriptions Numbers
In the August 19th issue of Hamilton County’s The Times, the paper’s publisher, Tim Timmons wrote in his weekly column:

“When we purchased The Times back just about a year ago (boy, time flies!), we had a paid circulation of less than 4,500. Today, I'm more than a little pleased to share that our paid circulation is up to more than 8,100.”

Timmons went on to say: “During today's economic ups and downs, it's more gratifying than I can possibly express that we have grown 80 percent in less than a year.”
Link to actual column:

Numbers like that encouraged my local real estate office to switch our weekly showcase of homes advertising from the Star to the Times. I checked with our Tucker corporate office and they were pitched this 8,100 figure.

But those circulation numbers are mysterious for 2 reasons.

-In October, less than 2 months later, as required by the United State Postal Service, The Times published its official circulation numbers in a grainy, hard to read legal ad.* It showed the paper’s owner signed his name to a document that pegged its average daily circulation for the previous 12 months at 4,308, a number less than it was when the current owners took over, almost half the number cited by Mr. Timmons just 2 months earlier.

-Earlier this week I spoke with a representative of the Times and ask about the number discrepancy. He said that both numbers were wrong and that it’s really more like 6,000, but that he publicly uses the 8,100 figure.

2) Mysterious Messages Embedded in Asphalt
Noblesville is home to an increasing number of “Toynbee Tiles;” mysterious messages embedded in the asphalt of a city street. The Contrarian first wrote about these in 2007 when the first one appear at Logan and 9th Streets.

Such messages have been found in major cities around the U.S. and in several South American cities. Who’s placing the messages, why, and how they manage to do it without being seen remains a mystery.

Several can be found around the courthouse square. The first to appear locally can be found in North 9th Street just feet from its intersection with Logan Street, touching the northern-most crosswalk. It reads:

“Toynbee idea
in movie 2001
resurrect dead

planet Jupiter”

If you want to understand what it means, Goggle it. It’s way too weird and complicated for me to explain.

In the past year others have appeared at the corner of 9th and Conner and one appears to have disintegrated at Logan and 10th, leaving it random letters embedded, but scattered around the intersection.

They are apparently made by cutting out the design, mosaic-style from colored pieces of linoleum and then sandwiching the resulting panel between two pieces of sticky roofing felt. The sandwiched message is dropped on a smooth road on a hot summer day and car tires compress it into the asphalt, initially looking like a rectangular patch in the road. After weeks or months the top layer of roofing felt wears away and reveals the linoleum mosaic message, now fully embedded into the street surface.

3) Mysteriously Inept Writer: He can write (sorta), but can he dress himself?
I was invited by local writer Dan Logan to help judge a writing competition that was part of his writer’s workshop last Saturday at Forest Park Lodge.

I dressed myself all by myself, because I’m a big boy now, and I went off to the writer’s workshop and while there was treated like a reasonably intelligent person who knows a thing or two. I was honored to sit for a few hours with Noblesville’s well-known and successful novelist Susie Crandall and judge short stories written by the workshop attendees.

During a down hour before naming the winners, I left the workshop and went out about the community and ran some errands, then came back to Forest Park to see the awards handed out.

Everybody shook hands and complemented the winners and went home.

When I got home I sat on the edge of bed and unlaced my shoes, only to discover, to my horror, that I had spent the entire day walking around with two different shoes on.

Perhaps I need to do what my kids had to do when they were in elementary school: present themselves before my wife for inspection each day before leaving to make sure nothing was inside out, backwards, or on the wrong feet.

*To see an original, readable copy of the postal form The Times filled out to better understand what the numbers mean, email the Contrarian and I’ll send you a clean pdf.

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