Michael Cooper-White

Albert Einstein once declared, “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”

I have been utterly unable to wrap my frail and feeble mind around a couple of events of the past few days.

It seems simply unbelievable that the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral has been severely damaged by fire. The venerable “Our Lady” of Paris has witnessed over 800 years of history. When she was completed in 1245, the whole world still believed the earth was at the center of the universe.

Notre Dame de Paris has been a place of prayer and stunning artistic beauty that has survived riots, revolutions and two world wars. I hope predictions of rapid reconstruction hold true so people from throughout the world can once again be inspired by Our Lady’s indominable spirit.

My frail and feeble mind is even more challenged by what might be hailed as this century’s most amazing photo thus far. After all, how can there be a picture of nothing?

A black hole is the essence of nothingness. Time magazine described it as “unseeable in any wavelength.” What we do have is a picture of some stardust and energy waves that surround the no-thing.

As one marinated in scriptures that speak of “the light no darkness can overcome” (Gospel of John), what am I to make of a ginormous astronomical field so dense and all-powerful that no light can escape its clutches?

And how can we begin to fathom scientists’ claim that the M87 galaxy where they’ve discovered the titanic no-thing is 54 million light-years away from us? That what we’ve just “seen” on our televisions and in our newspapers happened 54 million years ago?

The sheer size of the newly detected black hole—the equivalent of 6.5 billion suns—should pare the biggest egos down to size too.

As if that were not enough, according to Jeffrey Kluger’s story in Time (April 22, 2019), “Virtually all of the at least 200 billion large galaxies in the known universe are thought to be organized around a central black hole.”

I’m afraid this is all going to keep me scratching my head for several light years to come. In the short-term, pondering the impenetrable mysteries surrounding Easter seems almost easy by comparison.

Mary Grace Keller

We’ve got a unique election coming up May 21, as Independents will be able to vote in the primary.

No, Pennsylvania didn’t change its voting law (though I wish it would). Independents get to vote because there is a special election for the 33rd Pennsylvania Senate since Rich Alloway resigned.

The candidates are Republican Doug Mastriano of Fayetteville and Democrat Sarah E. Hammond of Hanover. One of them will be elected and serve the remainder of Alloway’s term, until the end of 2020. While Republicans and Democrats will receive ballots full of names for various races, Independents’ ballots will only bear the names of the 33rd District candidates.

For those who prefer to register with a political party and vote in all races, the last day to register before the primary is Monday, April 22. The last day to apply for an absentee ballot is Tuesday, May 14, and the final day to receive voted absentee ballots is Friday, May 17.

To double check your polling place, view sample ballots, and access other election resources, go online to adamscounty.us, click on the administration tab then the bullet point that says elections and voter registration.

I encourage everyone to vote and to vote mindfully. Research the candidates before you enter the polling place.

To the younger voters, don’t simply vote for the same candidates as your parents, unless you truly support them. If you’re in college and away from home, fill out an absentee ballot or change your voter registration to Adams County for the time being.

Every single vote counts, and the election of Torren Ecker to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is proof of that. Rep. Ecker (R-193) won by a single vote after a recount last May.

One of the best things about local elections is how much easier it is to talk to the candidates face to face. Reach out to them and ask questions. We’ve been running stories on the candidates in the paper and I’ve still got a few interviews left to go. Of the beats I cover consistently, Carroll Valley, McSherrystown, and Littlestown Area School District have highly contested races.

Your local representatives are the ones who will have the most immediate and direct impact upon your life. I know there’s already lots of hype surrounding the 2020 presidential election, but don’t neglect the local election either.

Adams County experienced its highest voter turnout for a non-presidential election last November, with 58.41 percent of registered voters casting ballots. While that number should be applauded, I think we can do a lot better. Voting is a right Americans are lucky to have. Don’t take it for granted.

Vanessa Pellechio

Our lives cannot be defined by fear. Everyone has a voice.

It is up to you to use it.

It is up to you to make a difference, whether it is for yourself, a relative, a coworker, a friend, a student, or more.

It is up to you to speak up.

A lot of (metaphorical) doors were shut on me this week out of fear. I get it.

I may have a bubbly personality when you meet me, but certain subjects are difficult to talk about no matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert.

But I want all of you to know, I will be here. I will be here if or when you are ready to have someone hear your important story. I mean it.

Your story is important not only to me, but to this community. It could help someone else going through hard times.

Power. That is what this all comes down to. Again, I get it. But your words could be just as powerful, if not more.

Readers, I’m sorry for the cryptic message, but I hope to get to the bottom of this story. If anyone has any information, please reach out at vpellechio@gettysburgtimes.com or to my direct line at 717-253-9419.

Jim Hale

Between rain, my weird work schedule, and my perennial sleep problems, my yard remains uncut.

I like how it looks. I’ll be sad to mow this weekend.

There are lots of colors from tiny flowers of various kinds, plus dandelions like little suns.

The yard isn’t flat and boring. Interesting plants are thriving, some slim and tall, others forming dense low clumps. Some are almost yellow, others such a dark green they’re nearly black. Leaves of every imaginable shape are on display.

I have no clue what any of the plants are. All I know is, I prefer them to a featureless expanse of grass, grass, grass.

Manicured lawns are not only yawn-inducing and time-wasting, they’re dangerous.

Fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals pollute our water and kill useful insects like bees.

Lawn mower engines cause air and noise pollution. Sleeping is the whole purpose of Saturday mornings, but the lawn fanatics won’t let you.

I hate the whole lawn fetish. Just let things grow. Be surprised. Mow only when it’s hard to walk or there’s danger of snakes.

D.K. Thomas

More than a handful of years ago I took grandson Haidn on a bird watching trek at Pine Grove Furnace State Park.

The group of about 20 or so people was led by a ranger along a path through the woods near Fuller Lake. Haidn either didn’t notice, or maybe just didn’t care, that he was the only person under 50 hiking through the forest looking for birds. He was just happy to be out and about doing something, anything, with Grandma.

Most of the other people in the group were enamored with the small, inquisitive, red-headed lad. One gentleman in particular took an interest in Haidn, providing him a lesson in the types of trees and other flora growing along the path, and even pointing out some edible berries, which the unlikely duo enjoyed together.

I’d outfitted the then-5-year-old with a pair of small, inexpensive binoculars. He’d never seen anything like binoculars before, and having no experience or reference for the instrument, didn’t have a word to describe them, so he came up with “woggle goggles.” Woggle because the lenses could be toggled or adjusted, and goggles because they were held up to the eyes for viewing. Rather clever, I thought.

So here we are years down the road and we’re still referring to binoculars as woggle goggles.

I was telling little granddaughter Cadence, who hangs out with me some days while Sarah is in class, about woggle goggles. She was enthralled.

We decided to make a pair, sort of.

A couple of toilet paper tubes, glue, some long pipe cleaners, and lots of paint later and Cadence had her own woggle goggles.

Maybe not quite what Haidn had, but sure worth hours of fun making them together, then checking out the trees around my house searching for birdies.

And, Cadence and I had as much fun spending time together making her woggle goggles and looking for birds in the yard this week as did Haidn and I trekking through the forest years ago – it’s all time with Grandma, or maybe it’s all time Grandma gets to spend with the little ones.

Charles Stangor

I’m spending Easter weekend with family members who live on a farm not far from Des Moines, Iowa.

The area is similar to Adams County in many ways – it’s rural ad agricultural, it was settled by Germans, and it is a meat-and-potatoes type of place, if you know what I mean.

It’s not hilly here like Adams County, but it isn’t flat either. There are rolling hills that sometimes block line of sight on highways, but which then quickly open into extraordinary vistas and immense skies.

It is majestic country here – big and wild.

People here talk about distances in terms of miles instead of minutes. You can do that because there’s not much traffic, the roads run dead straight, either due north or due west, and the speed limit on the two-lanes is 65.

The ground is black as pitch and produces crops of corn and soybeans that feed the world.

The farmers are bringing their tractors into the fields, using planters that can be 40 yards wide.

There’s another crop that’s being cultivated around here this spring, and that’s the 2020 democratic presidential candidates.

They are literally everywhere. You can get a selfie with pretty much any one of them, and you may be surprised to find one eating a donut at your local coffee shop.

Today alone Amy Klobuchar is in Des Moines, Tim Ryan is in Davenport, and Kirsten Gillibrand is in Council Bluffs.

Andrew Yang will be in Adel tomorrow, Pete Buttigieg was here on Tuesday, and Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, and Eric Swalwell will be here next week.

The Hawkeye state is having an outsized impact on the 2020 presidential race even now, with the caucuses still 9 months, 16 days, 2 hours, 23 minutes, and 26 seconds away, according to the countdown timer at the Des Moines Register website.

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